Term Paper: Evaluating Management Theory and Practice

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Gendered Managerial Styles

The Role of Gender in Organizational Change Management

Management was considered a traditionally men's realm in the past. Clearly defined social roles and the "glass ceiling" dictated that women could not be CEOs or top managers. There were exceptions to this unwritten rule, but they were the rarity, rather than the norm (Ryan, Haslam, and Postmes, 2007). Since those days, social barriers that clearly defined gender roles have become archaic. Women and men now have an equal opportunity to hold positions of power. However, global corporate structure was developed with the male manager in mind.

No one will argue that men and women are wired differently. They have different styles of communication, social interaction, project management styles, and perspectives on conflict resolution. These differences create very different styles of managerial leadership. Understanding how these differences effect organizational culture and conflict resolution within the organization is an important factor in strategic plans and corporate goals.

Mergers, de-mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing are the business model for the new millennium. Organizational change is the rule, rather than the exception. Modern businesses are dynamic. Understanding the factors that affect the ability to make a smooth transition is the key to maintaining smooth operations in the newly formed entity. There has been little academic focus on the importance of these gender differences and how they effect organizations in transition. This research will explore this once taboo topic and will step beyond equal opportunity to define how gender differences affect managerial styles and organizational change.

Gender Differences in Managerial Style

As corporations become more global in their scope, gender differences will become more important in the future. Cultural differences treat gender differences and social roles differently. Some cultures, such as Muslim countries, still have narrowly defined gender roles and occupations. For instance, Chinese women have a significant conflict between work and family obligations (Aaltio and Huang, 2007).While, in other more liberal countries, such as the U.S. And England, women in the boardroom are a common sight. These differences will help to define the rules governing international relations in the future. As women in positions of power become more common in liberal countries, it will effect traditional communications and relationships in countries where gender roles are still highly defined.

Discussing the differences between the managerial styles of men and women is almost taboo due to fears of being accused of discrimination. Therefore, the differences in management styles of men and women has received little attention. However, these differences are real and effect the way an organization functions and responds to various situations. They have an impact on the effectiveness of the organization and ultimately on the bottom line. Misunderstanding these differences or basing decisions on inaccurate preconceptions leads to dysfunctional organizations. When problems are approached with a complete understanding of the viewpoints of all of the players involved, tolerance and communications become more efficient, and as a result so does the organization.

It is important to understand that the reason for a lack of attention to gender differences in managerial roles is not due to its lack of importance, but rather a result of fears of being politically incorrect. This is a relatively new area of study in the field of organizational leadership. To understand fully, how gender affects upper level managers, we must draw from the field of psychology. We must first define these differences in order to study how they effect organizations.

One can approach the issue of the differences between male and female managerial styles without delving into the question of which one is better, a topic that is best avoided. The truth of the matter is that whether one wishes to accept it or not, men and women have strengths and weaknesses, both as individuals and in general, that make them more suited for certain situations. That is not to say that this is always the case. There are individuals within both genders that are exceptions to the rule. However, generally speaking, men and women have mental capability and deficiencies that make them more effective in certain types of situations than in others. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses will help managers of both genders to become more effective by the ability to recognize when a certain trait or method of dealing with a situation would be more appropriate.

Defining Gender Differences in Managerial Style

According to the American Psychological Association, women and men have two clearly defined managerial styles. Women tend to have a mentoring or coaching style of management. Men tend to have a command and control style. Men tend to prefer hierarchies, where the different players jockey for position. Women tend to enjoy a cooperative environment where the players are on more equal terms (APA, 2006). It is not surprising that women tend to respond better to a more coaching/mentoring style of management and men prefer hierarchies (APA, 2006).

Each gender tends to be more effective among their own kind. However, the problem at hand can dictate which managerial style will be more effective in a particular situation. In problems where teamwork is paramount, women will tend to form more cohesive groups. Women tend to help transform groups and individuals within the group. They seek to bring out the best qualities of each employee. They serve as role modes, focusing on motivating employees to be creative and dedicated to the cause (APA, 2006).

Women participate in the outcome and want to be involved in an intimate way with every phase of the project (APA, 2006). In a corporation that relies on creativity, such as a design studio, or architectural firm, female managers can excel. However, in certain traditional male settings, this managerial style can be detrimental. Certain organizations are set up to accommodate a command and control style of management. For instance, in organized sports or the military, the participatory style of the female manager may backfire. The managerial style must be matched to the organizational structure and purpose, regardless of the gender of the manager.

2003 meta-analysis revealed another key difference in male and female managerial style. Women tend to praise good performance, more than they criticize poor performance. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to criticize poor behavior and ignore good behavior. Men also tend to criticize subordinates more than equals (APA, 2006). The problem occurs when these traits are taken as absolutes. People will form expectations about how a certain manager will act, based on gender bias. When the manager does not meet expectations, it can cause conflict. Women who take a more command and control style associated with men can be seen in a negative, rather than a positive light. They may be seen as "pushy." Likewise, men who tend towards cooperation will not be likely to gain respect among comrades, as they will be seen as wishy-washy or effeminate.

The female manager who is criticized for being to bossy is much more likely to change their behavior to be more compliant than a male who is accused of being too wishy washy (APA, 2006). When the female manager changes her behavior, it is not likely to result in a power struggle. However, when a male boss is seen as wishy-washy, another male may try to hone in and take command. This can result in a power struggle that undermines the ability to complete the project.

As one can see, although there are no absolutes as to how male and female managers will react in certain situations, there are certain general tendencies associated with gender that affect the ability to a manager to be effective in a certain situation. The organizational culture and structure of the corporation have an impact on which managerial style will be more effective for that particular organization. One of the most difficult situations occurs in change management when an organization becomes accustomed to a certain managerial style, and they must suddenly adapt to an entirely different managerial style (Linstead, Brewis, and Linstead, 2005).

When conflicts arise, women managers are more likely to be willing to compromise in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution to the problem (Voelck, 2003). Men are more likely to engage be confrontational and engage in a power struggle (Voelck, 2003). Voelck, (2003) calls these managerial styles "directive" and "connective." Traditional views on managerial styles view them as static. However, it is now beginning to be realized that they are dynamic and need to be viewed as such (Linstead, Brewis, and Linstead, 2005).

Women tend to focus on building lasting relationships. According to Shullman, this leads to greater longevity among female manager, as opposed to males. However, she cautions about making assumptions based on generalizations and emphasized that there are no absolutes when it comes to gender issues in management. Shullman feels that the old stereotypes are still there, but that they have weakened over time. Shullman found that in major corporations, men are selected early in their careers for "grooming" into higher positions. Women are not as likely to be selected… [END OF PREVIEW]

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