What does it mean to be a good leader? What the leader’s profile looks like? Is the leader authoritative, firm and fearless? Or, is she or he perhaps persistent, tactful and committed?
From where do we get the idea of leaders? This idea was derived most probably from ancient Greek and Roman military leaders, through the centuries of the royal families and modern statesmen. When we mention the aforementioned, we immediately get a picture of the man who controls everything, and the rest of his subordinates that are hierarchically lower ranked that have almost no possibility of opposition, listen to and follow the leader. With the onset of the more modern era, to the military has been given a different role, but the leadership systems in business are still copying the hierarchical structure.
The human society has taken a very long time but only during the last twenty years in the modern, industrialized countries there are talks about the common gender equality in the workplace. This should ensure equality in the labour market and to the companies would be given a choice to find the best possible leaders, in order to increase productivity. Here, the productivity is the key word, because this is not mentioned to be a political debate about the gender equality, but analysis of the leaders of a new era.
In this text will be presented the results of some recent research that suggests that women are truly perceived as better leaders, but the results from the real situations cannot be known until such time the women will be given an equal opportunity as leaders, in the same line with the men.
We should bear in mind that every age brings changes and people realised different needs, so there is a clear possibility for different ways of leadership in different circumstances and different times. With all the objectivity and restraint, it is obvious that such premise strongly imposes the idea that the 21st Century is the time that requires increased involvement of women.
This recipe may seem subjective, so it should be said what the studies have shown. In fact, research shows that it is more probable that women possess the qualities that are required for the leadership that we associated with the success. Women are more prepared for the job and they have a better possibility of transformation and adjustment, they care a lot more about the development of their followers, they are also better listeners and more easily encourage their followers to think ‘outside the box’; they inspire them and they have higher ethical standards.
Dr. Bass, who developed the transformational leadership theory, predicts that in the future women leaders will dominate, because they are better suited to manage the world in the 21st century than men. This research sublimates and breaks – down the common features that are related to talented and confident women – leaders in seven important categories:
Consulting firm ‘Zenger Folkman’ examined the effectiveness of women’s leadership and their share in corporate America, the results of which were first published five years ago in the Harvard Business Review. Although the statistics vary throughout the world, it makes a very consistent pattern. Below are their findings:
On the lowest organizational level, more than half of the employees are women. As we climb to a higher level of organisation, the number of women is reduced, but the important position of the Chairman of the Board all over the world, occupies only 3% to 4% of women. This information is quite baffling when we take into the consideration the results obtained through the examination of the overall success of women in the organisations, when they occupy the higher positions of leadership. For more than a decade ago, Zenger Folkman collects so called, ‘360° feedback data’ from the leading organizations around the world. It is about assessing ability and results; the feedback is provided by examinees who have been variously ranked, i.e. they belong to the same, higher or lower organisational hierarchy. They possess more than 450 000 documents related to to about 45 000 leaders, covering a wide range of industries. Findings that are presented in this seminar refers to data collected during 2011 and 2012, based on a sample of 16 000 leaders, of which two – thirds were men and one – third were women. Each participant had in average 13 examinees included in the ‘360 ° feedback’, and their effectiveness in the capacity as leaders is shown in the graph below.
Because the sample was vast, the difference is statistically significant and does not appear accidentally.For us to better understand the differences between men and women is advisable to look at the overall effectiveness by age. It appears that the effectiveness of women as leaders change over time. At the beginning of the men and women careers, the difference is negligible. But then the men have begun to be perceived as more effective than women. What women are more mature, they are even more positively and better rated, but the gap between them and the men is starting to narrow only at about sixty years of age.
When they asked women, they had told them that the answer lies in the fact that for the same recognition and reward must do twice as much as men, can never go wrong and they must constantly prove their competences.
There is another very important reason that seems to be referring to the component of communications, – the one that was explained earlier in this work, in the recipe for a good leader. When we look at the results in the section called ‘The practice of the self – development’, which refers to the search for the feedback information on their own competence and, therefore incurred changes based on such received feedback. It is a known fact that most people in the beginning of their career are motivated to seek feedback and to seek to improvement measures, but over time most people consider that they acquired enough skills and they no longer seek feedbacks. The results are quite similar for both sexes to the approximate age of forty years of age, but unlike men, women still maintains the habit of requests for feedback and taking action to improve their performance, while men assume that they are doing well and that they do not need any more feedback information’s. If we consider the fact that competence of both sexes’ falls as their age increases, this is a very important moment.
In fact it is evident that women are seen as more effective and wishing to perform tasks, obtain results and become the role models that actually describe the leaders who take on challenges, ensuring that their people work with integrity when they perform challenging tasks. The behavioural pattern and the studied facts have become more intriguing by the analysis of the various functional areas within an organization. This was shown by the collected data:
The above mentioned, presented data show that many of our stereotypes are inaccurate, because women were consistently higher rated in term of efficiency in traditionally male fields, such as engineering, sales, law and information technology.
What about differences that are made known at the different levels in the organization? The research shows that if the women are higher positioned in the organization, the perception of their effectiveness increases.
Dr. Gordon Curphy, who is one of the leading consultants in industrial and organizational psychology claims that there has been a general collapse of confidence in our society leadership that led to the crisis on several organizational levels. According to Curphy, this can be largely attributed to the widespread inability of the leaders to build a cohesive team that is oriented towards future results. He also further considers that women easier achieve such goals, because they are by nature more oriented towards cooperation and relations so they can easily create and maintain them. The problem is that to the men are given a lot more opportunities for pursuant the high ranking positions, so here we need to mention what of the huge importance was bringing of Mrs. Mary Barra as a Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the General Motors, when considered that automotive industry is a male – oriented industry, in which you can probably find women only at the positions such as Human Resources Managers.
Today is pointless to discuss about the concept of the glass ceiling, because too many studies have shown that it does exist and numerous Governments, at least declaratively, deals with its ‘breaking’, and many scientists deals with its origins. The glass ceiling represents informal barriers that prevents the progression of the minorities groups, or situations in which the advancement of a qualified person in the organizational hierarchy is hindered due to some form of discrimination. Although the term glass ceiling refers to all the minorities, most often is associated with women.
To conclude this seminar, if you’ll find yourself to be a man or a woman, that does not secure your ability for building and managing a team of employees who will achieve the cohesive results. Believing in cast stereotypes that were created by assumptions about someone, based on the gender characteristics should be the matter of the past. Women should be judged as professionals (as set in the non – gender typology) and all should have the same starting position from which they can present and prove their competences and abilities.
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