There is ample evidence that the role of leaders within the organisation requires a more traditionally-masculine approach in order to gain followership, trust and allegiance. This is largely due to the fact that long-standing, cultural connotations of what constitutes effective leadership are borne of conviction that effectual leadership involves traits such as being despotic, assertive and ambitious…
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Women must demonstrate male characteristics in order to succeed as leaders and must cast aside feminine qualities
Not all researchers or organisational practitioners support the ideology of domination and assertive behaviour as being vital to gaining followership, with some offering that effective leadership consists of such behaviours as compassion, nurturing and helpfulness. At the sociological level, again based on long-standing cultural distinctions between typical male and female behaviours, such leadership traits are largely associated with the feminine personality. In order to fully understand whether women can maintain their innate, feminine attitudes and personality traits, it is necessary to examine the conceptions of what constitutes successful leadership. This essay examines the distinctions made by many in society and within the organisation of what comprises typical male versus female behaviours and how these traits translate into positive leadership capability. Based on the research findings, this work will illustrate that in order to gain followership as a leader, women must abandon their feminine qualities and utilise male-oriented strategies even if such philosophies conflict with inherent personality factors.
One can first make the argument that there are distinct biologically-driven differences between the male and female that determine social conceptions of gender. Campbell (1989) offers research describing the differences between male and female brain structure in which the female maintains distinct hemispherical structures known to be related with superior verbal and linguistic skills. Male brain biology, in opposite accord, is structured in a fashion known to support aggression and assertiveness (Gorman 1995). Science supports that women are more likely to be passive, inherently, than their male counterparts based strictly on the genetic differences between the sexes. Science would seem to support the notion that women must make radical adjustments to their innate personality traits if they wish to adopt male-oriented characteristics in the role of organisational leadership. However, there is much more to the debate when attempting to explain the difference between sex and gender. According to Oakley (1972) gender is a socially-constructed concept deeply engrained in time-honoured cultural values and principles. Gender is “constructed through situational and institutional processes” and such beliefs can be regularly subject to change and variable among international cultures (Oakley 1972, p.41). In most Western cultures, as one relevant example, distinctions between men and women are made under social identity theory, a psychological model which iterates that one builds their own self-concept based on membership within a relevant social group (Hogg 2001; Turner and Oakes 1986). If the dominant group prototype suggests that the female gender should maintain such characteristics as submission, empathy or nurturing behaviours, compliance with the social ideology of male versus female attitude and personality becomes a sociological consideration and is
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