Leadership Styles and gender perceptions
Leadership as described by Griffin, (2002) is a complex discipline that appraises the evolution of leadership models from trait theories, behaviourist theories, situational leadership, contingency theory up to modern leadership style trends of transactional and transformational leadership. Burn’s (1978) view is the preferred and more effective style is transformational leadership which is considered to be more suited to the leadership style and natural disposition of females. As innovative companies require a more collaborative team based approach, is there a correlation therefore between Burn’s (1978) view of female inclination towards new trend, ...view middle of the document...
At the height of its popularity, Trait leadership theory was seen as a male domain. Socially and culturally, women were not perceived as having these qualities and therefore not leadership material. This was reflected in the low numbers of women having any significant senior management role either in business or the public sector during this period. This perception changed during World War Two as women had to take on senior leadership roles in all walks of life particularly in Europe and the USA. After World War 2 (WW 2) women began to see themselves as citizens with a voice who wanted greater responsibility in different walks of life. Despite this, according to the Grant Thornton IBR Report (2013), only 21% of women in Ireland currently hold senior management positions and it is even lower in the UK (19%) and the USA (20%). Evidently this pattern is continuing to exist. Today far more women are entering business and professions with ambition to succeed and a desire to play a key role in their chosen field. A further examination of other leadership models might shed some light on this issue.
Situational Leadership Theory
Research on situational factors remains limited with results being difficult to interpret due to the confusion with different aspects of the situation. Still, according to studies by Fry, Kerr, and Lee (1988) and Hammer and Turk (1987) as cited in Yukl (1989) there is evidence that leader behaviour is strongly influenced by the situation. Situational Leadership theory developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1977) focuses on the leader in a given situation. Effectiveness is contingent on adapting style of leadership to the details of the task. The situational approach emphasises the importance of matching leadership style exercised to the maturity of the group being led. The leader has a directive and supportive role to apply appropriately. Ultimately different situations demand different kinds of leadership with no single best universal style instead leaders ascertain individuals/followers approach to tasks regarding knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation and commitment. Therefore, it is incumbent that good leaders diagnose development of individual and use appropriate style to either, support, coach, direct or delegate given the situation.
Typically leadership is thought of in terms of two opposing styles; McGregor’s Theory X authoritarian or Theory Y democratic (Vecchio, 2000). Situational Leadership challenges this view point of being one or the other. Success lies in the ability of the leader to form a partnership, building a two way relationship between leader and team members and adapting to the specific needs of the situation (Price, 2011).
As the title of this model suggests, context and culture also play a role in defining the situational needs and leadership requirements in an organisation at any particular period. Initially therefore, one might think that this model would always seek out the best...