Two effective leadership characteristics evidenced by my female leader are strong interpersonal skills and goal-oriented. These characteristics are important for effective leadership in general and not dependent upon gender. According to Eagly (2007) the most effective leadership styles are transformational and transactional (contingent rewarding). Further, Eagly and Chin (2010) note that women leaders are “more transformational in their leadership than male leaders” (p. 219). Transformational leadership incorporates idealized influence (attribute and behavior), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Eagly, 2007). Strong interpersonal skills are related to idealized influence (behavior) as the leader “communicates values purpose and importance of organization’s mission” (p. 3) to members of the organization. Communication is also significant “because leadership is a transaction between leaders and followers, effectiveness…reflects followers’ expectations and prejudices” (Eagly & Chin, 2010, p. 220) Goal-orientation falls within intellectual stimulation whereby leaders “examine new perspectives for solving problems and completing tasks” (Eagly, 2007, p. 3) and idealized influence discussed previously.
Two effective leadership characteristics evidenced by my male leader are decisiveness and charismatic/motivating. Once again, these characteristics correspond to the transformational leader description discussed previously. Specifically, decisiveness falls within intellectual stimulation discussed hereinabove. Charisma/motivating attributes fall within inspirational motivation described as “exhibiting optimism and excitement about goals and future states” (Eagly, 2007, p. 3). According to Eagly (2007), transformational leadership is often characterized as charismatic leadership that “involves establishing oneself as a role model by gaining followers’ trust and confidence. Such leaders delineate organizations’ goals, develop plans to achieve those goals, and creatively innovate, even in organizations that are already successful. Transformational leaders mentor and empower their subordinates and encourage them to develop their potential and thus to contribute more effectively to their organization. Other researchers have incorporated some of these same qualities under other labels, such as charismatic leadership” (p. 2).
Perception of Gender
Gender does not relate to my perception of effective leadership. In fact, transformational leadership was explored previously in prior coursework, i.e., Introduction to Organizations. During that course, I learned a great deal about effective leadership irrespective of gender. Culturally, there are gender stereotypes that make it difficult for women to succeed in higher leadership positions. For instance, the sociocultural preference that women reflect communal personality traits seemingly conflicts with sociocultural preferences for agentic characteristics in leaders. As noted by Eagly (2007) women in higher leadership positions have either inherently adopted effective leadership skills or learned these necessary abilities and skills typically represented by transformational leadership to gain promotion and attain leadership likely due to the fact that these types of leadership represent neutrality, neither especially feminine nor masculine. Despite the current statistic relating to women’s underrepresentation in leadership nationally, it is my belief that women can be and often are just as effective as men in leadership. It is ironic that according to Eagly (2007) research reveals that the ineffective leadership styles characterized as laissez-faire or transactional (active management-by-exception or passive management-by-exception) are often exhibited by male leaders rather than female leaders, which tends to reflect transformational or transactional (contingent reward) leadership styles (Eagly, 2007).
Ayman, R., & Korabik, K. (2010, April). Leadership: Why gender and culture matter. American Psychologist, 65(3), 157-170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0018806
Eagly, A. H. (2007). Female leadership advantage and disadvantage: Resolving the contradictions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31(1), 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2007.00326.x
Eagly, A. H., & Chin, J. L. (2010, April). Diversity and leadership in a changing world. American Psychologist, 65(3), 216-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0018957
Killeen, L. A., Lopez-Zatra, E., & Eagly, A. H. (2006). Envisioning oneself as a leader: Comparisons of women and men in Spain and the United States. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(3), 312-322. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00299.x
Vinkenburg, C. J., Van Engen, M. L., Eagly, A. H., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2011). An exploration of stereotypical beliefs about leadership styles: Is transformational leadership a route to women’s promotion? The Leadership Quarterly, 22(1), 10-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.12.003