Leadership Styles: Men vs. Women

Leadership Styles

There is a lot of attention being paid to our increasingly diverse workplace. There are all types of differences including race, gender, generations and thinking styles, just to name a few. LTAW’s focus this month is on some of the key diversity dimensions and how to navigate them for greater productivity and engagement.

Men and women generally have different styles when it comes to leadership. Research shows that the male and female brains are “wired” differently. Shaunti Feldham wrote about this different wiring in The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace. Different perceptions and behaviors of men and women can in part be attributed to this different wiring. In Feldham’s book she explains some of these different behaviors. For example, men naturally compartmentalize, while women do not. Women are wired to multi-task. She describes women as having many “windows” open at one time but have a hard time closing them out. Men on the other hand, have one window open at a time (work life or personal life) and find it exhausting to deal with multiple windows at the same time. Have you noticed these differences in your work relationships with men and women?
The opposite behaviors that stem from the different wiring of men and women can be seen in the way they lead. One style of leadership is not better than, or more correct than the other – they are just different. Although their styles differ, they are complementary and valuable at work. The table below shows the leadership styles generally attributed to men and women.

Leadership Table

It is important to understand these differences as you work with various leaders. Maybe you have been confused by your coworker’s or boss’s behavior if they are of the other gender. Hopefully this clears up some of that confusion. Both styles can be effective and a blend can be really awesome.

Tell us about some leadership style differences you have noticed between men and women.

Value differences! Live inclusively!

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  • Kass

    We need to be careful classifying leadership styles by gender. I am a woman and I fall mostly in the “Man” column. I know you state that it is a “general” understanding… but that general understanding can do a lot of damage and cause people to treat women differently. I do not know one (successful) female leader that does not focus on performance. I also do not know any (successful) male leaders who do not realize the importance of relationships.