Perception of Leadership Styles and Trust across Cultures and Gender: A Comparative Study on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

By Quader, Mohammed Shahedul | South Asian Journal of Management, April-June 2011 | Go to article overview

Perception of Leadership Styles and Trust across Cultures and Gender: A Comparative Study on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton


Quader, Mohammed Shahedul, South Asian Journal of Management


The race to be the 56th President of the United States has conjured an unprecedented contest in the American Democratic Party between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The purpose of this study is to quantify and examine the perception of the contrasting leadership styles between these two candidates using a survey method. There appears to be a shift away from the skill-based leadership traits of decision making and experience to a preference for a more intangible evaluation of a leader's character: the level of their moral compass. No significant gender or cultural differences were found between the trustworthiness and likelihood of voting for either Obama or Clinton's leadership styles. Finally, there was also a noticeably high association between the perception of trust and the likelihood of voting for a leader.

INTRODUCTION

The relationship of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's leadership styles has to be investigated from the view point of four distinct variables: gender, culture, trust and likelihood of voting. It is necessary to examine which leadership traits were considered to be of significant while addressing perception of trust and likelihood of voting. According to our study, the perception of fairness is the single most essential leadership trait which leaders should acquire in order to garner trust and commitment among voters. This in turn translates to employees in a business world. Other seemingly more obvious traits linked to current leadership studies, such as visionary and inspiring are both considered to be less influential in this study. The absence of both gender and cultural differences in the perception of trust and likelihood of voting towards both of the candidates' leadership styles is also very interesting. Thus, attention should be placed back upon transactional leadership, which has been pushed into the background and criticized for the being supposedly less effective than transformational leadership in the modern world. This finding has also placed extra weight on the study of how global leaders should be concentrating on how to project a perception that can be universally appealing based on values and its accompanying actions. The modern leader must hence be able to exhibit virtuous moral values in their leadership to be a true global leader. It is no longer much about which leadership style is moral suitable but rather the multiple realities and perspective that leaders have to reflect in order to inhibit trust within their workplace.

PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this research is to provide scientific evidence for the effects of different leadership styles specifically on the issue of trust among people of different cultural backgrounds and gender. This is a great opportunity to study two very distinct types of leadership; with Barack Obama's seemingly more inspirational style and Hillary Clinton's more pragmatic approach. Trust is an important issue in terms of a leader-follower relationship within a business environment. It will be a significant study to investigate whether or not people of different cultures and gender react to different types of leadership styles. The implications of the findings will be significant especially for multinational companies as well as changes in organizational leadership as a result of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&lA). Human Resource departments in companies shall also be equipped with the added knowledge for making recruitment decisions for future employees and executives. The result of this research finding will be useful to organizations which will hence be able to implement new strategic initiatives in leadership style and structure across these demographics.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

This research paper has three specific objectives. Firstly, to quantify the perception of leadership styles of Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Secondly, based on these leadership styles mentioned, is there a difference in the perception of trust for different cultures and gender.

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