Women managers are learning that the command-and-control leadership style associated with the male executive is not the only path up the corporate ladder. Over the years leadership styles have been explored in depth with conflicting opinions on leaders from Moses to Machiavelli to Lee Iacocca. Academicians have given us 350 definitions of leadership.
The spotlight has focused primarily on male leaders since they as managers have dominated the workplace. Now with more and more women breaking the glass ceiling, interest is being shown in the way women lead.
In a recent Leadership Study sponsored by the International Women's Forum and authored by Dr. Judy B. Rosener, Daniel J. McAllister and Gregory K. Stephens, it was discovered there were important differences and unexpected similarities in men and women leaders. The study concluded that:
- Men are more likely to employ a transactional management style by using power and managing by exchanging rewards for services rendered or punishment for inadequate performance.
- Women are not always as preoccupied with turf as men and tend to participatory management which includes sharing power and information, enhancing other people's self worth and getting others excited about their work.
- Women tend to believe that people perform best when they feel good about themselves and their work and they try to create situations that contribute to that feeling.
The participatory style of leadership is not without risk as it can encourage employees to reject, criticize, or otherwise challenge what the leader has to say, and in some instances, question her authority. And in traditional organizations interactive leadership is often viewed as being strictly "feminine" and is resisted.
The study suggested that the definition of effective leadership should be expanded and a wider path created for a diversity of executives - men and women - to attain positions of leadership.
QUESTION: My work has been criticized, and I can't help but feel my boss does not like me. How can I learn to take criticism and improve instead of feeling like a failure?
ANSWER: Ask how you can improve and listen intently. …