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Question on Gender Issues on leadership

Please answer the following questions….it looks like a lot but its only the reading part, the questions ae marked Bold are short and easy.

Activity  and Discussion1:  Leadership

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Leadership effectiveness is certainly determined at least partially by a situation.  One style of leadership is not successful in every set of circumstances.  Think for instance, of how you might lead a group of artists versus how you might lead a group of soldiers.  This style of leadership is referred to as situational leadership.

However, in general terms and regardless of situation, workers today expect more from their jobs than they did in the 1960’s or 1970’s. Men went off to their jobs every day, put in his 40 hours on the line, and stayed in the same job for his entire working life.  Today, most workers spend only a few years with an employer before moving on to a better or different job.  Workers are more likely to move up the career ladder by moving from one employer to the next rather than by growing within one company. 

Therefore, leaders today face a much different challenge when trying to recruit and retain talented workers.   The one sentence that best sums it up is from the article  The Female Leadership Advantage by Eaglya and Carli, “Is it the firm execution of authority over subordinates or the capacity to support and inspire them?”  Where leadership was once recognized by traits generally acknowledged of males include autocratic, transactional, task oriented, decisive, confidence in self.  Leadership traits generally thought of as female (democratic, transformational, team building, coaching) are what seem to inspire employees to higher levels of performance and to stay with the organization.  Employees today want to feel valued for what they bring to the table not how many widgets they make. 

What do you expect from your leader?  What inspires you to do a good job? 

Now turn that around and talk about the traits you will display as you continue to grow your own career.  Do you think it necessary for you to show both leadership traits?   

As a woman, will you try to exhibit more of what we consider the male leadership traits?  

 As a man will you try to exhibit more of the female leadership traits? 

Eaglya, A. H. and Carli, L.L. (2003). Female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. The Leadership Quarterly, 14, 807-834.

Activity #2: So what do we do?

The Shriver Report identifies three major reasons why women “opt out” or in another phrase why we have the “leaky pipeline”.  Their reasons include work life balance and flexibility, lack of networking opportunities, and a general feeling of being invisible  (Harrington and Ladge, 2009).

I will add the reason related to how to measure productivity and performance, which is done primarily by the number of hours worked.   Therefore, employees who work part-time are measured as having only half the performance of a full time worker.  What if we measured performance and productivity by how much successful work was accomplished instead of how many hours are worked. 

How do we encourage women to aspire to reach the top levels of an organization in the first place and how do we keep that motivation alive? 

Our readings tell us that men and women who think of themselves as having male leadership characteristics are more likely to aspire to top managerial positions while women who think of their leadership characteristics as female are less likely to aspire to those positions (Powell and Butterfield, 2003). 

Lastly, let me propose that leaders who exhibit what we traditionally think of as female leadership traits are often more harshly judged than leaders who exhibit male leadership traits.   The best analogy I can come up with is a fictional sports story.  Your team is in the last three seconds of the football game and it all comes down to a field goal attempt.  If a woman kicks and misses, it is obviously because women shouldn’t be kickers in the NFL.   If a man missing, he just had a bad kick and even if he gets fired, he will likely be picked up by another team.   Let a women manager have a bad day or make a mistake, as all leaders do, and she is judged much more harshly than a male manager would be.  It just makes sense in some ways. 

Measuring performance without bias is often much more difficult than we think. 

Look around your own organization and identify at least one thing they are doing right to make sure they are doing whatever they can to recruit and retain talented women.  What could they do better? 

After all, studies show when a company has significant male and female leadership they are more likely to be successful.  Diversity Counts! 

Harrington, B. and Ladge, J.J. (2009). Got talent? It isn’t hard to find. The Shriver Report, 199-231. 

Powell, G. N. and Butterfield, A. (2003).  Gender, gender identity, and aspirations to top manage


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