Women As Leaders Essay

3765 words - 16 pages

Women are moving up in corporate America, but very slowly! So slowly, it would take 300 years for women to reach parity in business and 500 years in the US Congress (Northouse, 2004). There has been significant research conducted on why there are so few women in high-ranking leadership positions in corporate America and other countries. Deficiencies in career development, the “glass ceiling”, sexual stereotyping, work-life issues, and lack of mentorship opportunities have been identified as some of the primary reasons there are so few women working as senior managers.
In this paper, the author discusses how feminine traits are a benefit to an executive manager’s repertoire, examine the ...view middle of the document...

Excellent leadership traits are characteristically seen as positive traits. However, Goffee and Jones (2004) suggest there is one trait normally seen as negative, which is actually quite positive as it applies to leadership—revealing weakness. As a leadership strength, revealing weakness shows a leader’s human side (Goffee & Jones, 2004). It is important for leaders to be seen as people and not merely taskmasters to increase relationships and inspire trust. Keeping a sense of the work environment and showing genuine concern for employees are also important leadership traits (Goffee & Jones, 2004). Other definitions of leadership place emphasis on traits such as team-building. Kotter’s definition of leadership suggests a leader needs to foster an atmosphere in which employees work together, especially during periods of difficulty (Porterfield & Kleiner, 2005). The emphasis by leaders on teamwork and collaboration of their employees has become a highly embraced trait in the twenty-first century. Other significant traits include good listening skills, empowerment of employees to promote self-leadership and the ability to lead in a crisis situation (Porterfield & Kleiner, 2005).
Many of the aforementioned effective leadership traits are typically feminine traits. Women have excellent communication skills both verbally and non-verbally. Females have been found to be more attentive, emotionally social and more active listeners than their male counterparts who make intrusive interruptions during conversation while women make supportive interruptions (Cole, 2004). Cole (2004) also suggests women have better non-verbal communication skills, including the use of facial and hand expressions, smiling and gesturing more which enforces and clarifies communication. In fact, women use their communication skills to foster other valuable leadership traits: emphasis on teamwork and empowerment. Light (1998) suggests women “lead from behind” in an effort to inspire self-leadership in subordinates. A study of women leaders found females use communication to create and build relationships with employees, fostering an atmosphere of teamwork among employees (Cole, 2004). A woman’s ability to foster a supportive atmosphere may be tied to motherhood. Kaplan-Leiserson (2005) says women are naturally able to provide support and motivation to others because they learn it through motherhood and even suggests there is a definite similarity between maternal and leadership instinct. Because women are empathetic leaders, showing more personal involvement and genuine concern for subordinates, they are better equipped to deal with employee’s emotions and, therefore, possibly crisis situations. Characteristically feminine traits such as caring would theoretically be advantageous in turbulent environments (Mano-Negrin & Sheaffer, 2004). A study of police officers found women are better in a crisis situation because they are less confrontational than men and, therefore, less likely...

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