While the business world has come a long way in helping integrate women into leadership positions, there can be no doubt that women still have a long way to go. The good news is, however, that while women may still be struggling to be viewed as equal leaders to men, there definitely seems to be more latitude being given in the workplace for women to develop their own style of leadership. More and more the effectiveness of a female in leadership is being judged more by performance and results than on leadership style. In short, there is less pressure on women to simply lead like men. While there are no 100% hard and fast rules, there are some key differences that tends to separate the way women lead from the way men do. Here are 3.
1. Women may be more likely to give credit to the team than take credit themselves
While men may view themselves as just a part of the team, they are more likely to see credit given to them as inherently given to the team. Therefore, when they receive awards and accolades, it might not occur to them as much to verbally give credit to the entire team, since they might assume credit given to them is being given to the team. Women, however, may be more likely to make sure the entire team is recognized and actually verbally acknowledged. In many cases, they may actually work to ensure the entire team is recognized in the first place, rather than just themselves.
2. Women may be more hands-on leaders – and possibly more prone to being micro-managers
Men may view leadership as more of a “distant” sort of a role, while women may take a much more hands-on approach to leadership, viewing themselves as “one of the team” rather than distant and separate from it. Sometimes, this can lead to them being a bit too involved and potentially even cause them to venture more into micro-managing. When a man hands out tasks like getting insurance quotes or quotes for office equipment, they may leave their team to it, assuming the team will check in when they have something. Women may be more likely to ask for regular updates and see how they are doing. While there is nothing inherently wrong with either of these, men may be viewed as being too “distant” as leaders, while women may be viewed as being to hands on or “micro-managing.” Ultimately, leadership is a balancing act that both men and women have to learn how to juggle.
3. Women may be more likely to assume the team doesn’t actually need leading/ managing
Leadership can be an intimidating task for both men and women. Both are often called to lead individuals that may have a great deal more wisdom or experience than they do or even be significantly older, which can be a daunting task. While again, there are no hard and fast rules, men may be more prone to jumping in and “throwing their weight around” or “showing everyone who is in charge” while women may be more likely to step back and shy away from exerting or exhibiting any authority. Both can be equally destructive and detrimental and both can bring with them an equally steep learning curve.
It cannot be stated enough that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the differences between the way men and women lead. In some cases, a woman’s personality may lead her to naturally gravitate towards a more masculine style of leadership, but she may have to change her style if she senses her style of leadership is not being received or responded to well by the people she is leading. A legitimate question could be raised as to whether women lead differently because they are innately different or because the same leadership traits that are receive well when men exhibit them are not as well received when they are exhibited by women.