Women Leaders: The Gender Trap

In cultivating their leadership style, women have to be conscious of which traits they cultivate and which ones they suppress. Compared to their male counterparts, there are sharp differences in what they are expected to show and what they can “get away with”.

 

A common fallacy among some female executives is that they need to act like men to get ahead in organizations. But from our systematic work with executives on Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development (IMD) all-female Strategic Leadership program, the answer is not so straightforward. The challenge is actually two-fold: women must live up to collective expectations of what makes a leader, while at the same time remaining true to certain gender expectations.

  Please login or register to continue reading...

About the Authors

Ginka Toegel ([email protected]) is a professor of leadership at IMD, Lausanne. She is the Program Director of Strategies for Leadership – a program for senior women executives – and Mobilizing People – a leadership development program. Her current research interests focus on factors that influence leadership effectiveness, processing negative emotions at the workplace, and diversity in organizations.

Dr. Jean-Louis Barsoux is a Senior Research Fellow at IMD ([email protected]). He specialises in leadership, change management and interpersonal relations. He is the co-author of several works on these topics, including Managing Across Cultures (Prentice-Hall, with Susan Schneider), The Global Challenge (McGraw-Hill, with Paul Evans and Vladimir Pucik), and The Set-Up To Fail Syndrome: How good managers cause great people to fail (Harvard Business School Press, with Jean-François Manzoni).

References
1.Alice H. Eagly and Jean Lau Chin, “Diversity and Leadership in a Changing World,” American Psychologist, April 2010, 65/3: 216-224.
2.Robert Lea, “Wall Street Queen of Clean Axed,” London Lite, September 23, 2008: 35.
3.http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/wim_martin07.shtml
4.John A. Byrne and Ronald Grover, “Mattel’s Lack-of-Action Figures”, Business Week, February 21, 2000: 50.
5.Kathleen Morris, “The Rise of Jill Barad,” Business Week, May 25, 1998, 112-119.
6.Paula Burkes Erickson, “Research Shows Female Executives Not Successful When They Act Like Men,” The Daily Oklahoman, October 5, 2003: 12.
7.Karl Rove, “How To Beat Hillary (Next) November,” Newsweek, November 26, 2007, 150/22: 38.
8.Anon., “Clinton’s Comeback – Tears and Sympathetic Women?” Reuters News, January 10, 2008.
9.Adam Bryant, “O.K., Newbies, Bring Out the Hula Hoops,” The New York Times, June 11, 2010: 2.
10.Madeline E. Heilman, and Julie J. Chen, “Same Behavior, Different Consequences: Reactions to Men’s and Women’s Altruistic Citizenship Behavior,” Journal of Applied Psychology, May 2005, 90/3: 431-441.
11.Leanne E. Atwater, Joan F. Brett and Atira C. Charles, “The Delivery of Workplace Discipline: Lessons Learned,” Organizational Dynamics, 36/4, (2007): 392-403.
12.Paula Burkes Erickson, “Research Shows Female Executives Not Successful When They Act Like Men,” The Daily Oklahoman, October 5, 2003.
13.Adam Bryant, “Now, Put Yourself in My Shoes,” The New York Times, February 6, 2010: 2.
14.Chad Terhune, “Women to Watch,” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2004: R5.
15.Diane Brady, “Keeping Cool in Hot Water,” BusinessWeek, June 11, 2007.
16.Betsy Morris and Patricia A. Neering, “The Pepsi Challenge: Can This Snack and Soda Giant Go Healthy?” Fortune International (Europe), March 3, 2008.
17.Anne Mulcahy,“The Day I Was Too Candid,” Fortune, Nov. 18, 2002: 112.
18.Anne Mulcahy,“The Day I Was Too Candid,” Fortune, Nov. 18, 2002: 112.
19.Betsy Morris, “The Accidental CEO,” Fortune, June 23, 2003: 58.
20.Adam Bryant, “O.K., Newbies, Bring Out the Hula Hoops,” The New York Times, June 11, 2010: 2.
21.Francis J. Flynn, & Daniel R. Ames, “What’s Good for the Goose May Not Be Good for the Gander: The Benefits of Self-Monitoring for Men and Women,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 91 (2006): 272-283.
22.Celia V. Harquail, “Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders,” Administrative Science Quarterly, June 2008: 363-366.
23.Stephen Moss, “Shirley Williams: ‘I Didn’t Think I Was Good Enough to Be Leader’,” The Guardian, October 19, 2009.
24.Georges Desvaux, Sandrine Devillard-Hoellinger and Mary C. Meaney, “A Business Case for Women,” McKinsey Quarterly, 2008, 4: 26-33.
25.Marie-Hélène Budworth and Sara L. Mann, “Becoming a Leader: The Challenge of Modesty for Women,” Journal of Management Development, 2010, 29/2: 177-186.
26.Pamela L. Perrewé and Debra L. Nelson, “The Facilitative Role of Political Skill,” Organizational Dynamics, 33/4: 366-378.
27.Pamela L. Perrewé and Debra L. Nelson, “The Facilitative Role of Political Skill,” Organizational Dynamics, 33/4: 366-378.
28.Arkin, A. “The Fairer Sex,” People Management, Oct. 14, 2004: 40–42.
29.David A. Buchanan, “You Stab My Back, I’ll Stab Yours: Management Experience and Perceptions of Organization Political Behaviour,” British Journal of Management, 19, 2008: 49-64.
30.Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse, “Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of ‘Blind’ Auditions on Female Musicians, American Economic Review, 2000, 90: 715-741.
31.Madeleine Albright, Madam Secretary: A Memoir (Pan: New York, 2005): 492.
32.David P. Schmitt, Martin Voracek, Anu Realo, and Jüri Allik, “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures,” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, January 2008, 94/1: 168-182.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here