Gender differences in communication style have resulted in differences in leadership style of men and women. To avoid stereotypes, it is good to emphasize right at the beginning that research has increasingly proven that while there are behavioural differences between men and women due to the various factors that include physiological and environmental, it is important to note that there are equally significant differences among women themselves or men themselves. And therefore, any gender difference must be viewed with due disclaimers and after considering distortions and deletions that usually accompany any form of stereotyping.
Because there are some differences in the communication needs and purpose for men and women, their influencing style is different and therefore the model of leadership used to view their respective leadership traits must also be different.
With factors like culture, social roles, and situations playing a major role in one’s leadership expression, it is important to not take any “one size fits all” approach to leadership. Also, when assessing leadership style, it is important to consider the gender of the leader and the follower both as the communication style of the leader may differ based on the gender of the follower.
As per neuroscience, women usually have higher oxytocin levels than men. That is why, women more caring at work. They tend to be worried about their co-worker’s well-being and wish to connect with them at the personal level. Also, women’s brains are better evolved for expressing emotions. Therefore, they come across more warm and friendly at workplace.
Men on the other hand focus on rewards and in establishing dominance, which is why they prefer the performance-oriented leadership style. With a lower predisposition to express emotions, they feel uncomfortable in effusive situations. They also have greater vulnerability to fears.
Women too are focus on rewards however job satisfaction, finding meaning and a feeling of self-worth may serve as better rewards for them. That is why, men seem to be better at branding themselves and in managing the optics around their performance whereas women are more likely to be silent about their accomplishments.
With a difference in the leadership style (Catalyst, 2005), it is only obvious to assume that the occupational fitment for both men and women may differ. With relationship-oriented leadership style, women tend to be better at tasks related to human resources and public relations whereas men with their task-oriented leadership style may be better in tasks and jobs related to sales and general management. It is important to not be judgemental or competitive about the differences.
In fact, in most situations these differences, that stem from different communication and leadership style, can have a complementary effect when applied properly. Neither men or women are better leaders – their approach may be somewhat different and therefore the effectiveness of the leadership style needs to be viewed against the situation rather than the gender.
While there is some research to show gender differences in leadership style, it is important to note that these gender differences are fluid and differ from culture to culture. It is best to overcome the notion that men and women have gender divergent leadership styles in all situations. It is important not to take these differences as gospel truth. Leadership style is best viewed from a situational perspective rather than gender perspective.