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Transformational Leadership and Gender Inequality

Info: 2121 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in Leadership

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Excluded! Is the word that describes how women are treated when it comes to top positions in their jobs. For years, men have dominated the high ranks in companies where just a few women have been able to enter. Why? Because women are not given the chance to prove what they can do since most workplaces are usually biased towards men. However, despite having to face many obstacle women have proven that they can be as efficient as men when it comes to management or leading positions. In other words, women should be included in higher roles of management because they have proven to be profitable and innovative leaders for a company.

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Women are defined as caring and empathetical and thus their abilities as leaders are undermined by society. However, these characteristics that are usually despised in the world of business turn out to make very effective leaders that can motivate and inspire workers. In the 1950s Robert Freed Bales study of human relations revealed that there was two different ways people work with each other, which are denominated as task-orientated style and interpersonally orientated-style. Task-orientated groups focus mainly on completing the task that was assigned to them while interpersonally oriented groups focus on maintaining relationships and tending to members. These concepts were later developed into leadership styles called transactional and transformational. A large number of studies have associated the transformational leadership style with women as they are more democratic and encouraging towards subordinates. “Transformational leadership is an ability to inspire, communicate and lead through clear values.” (Maddock, 2002) As transformational leaders, women promote collaboration among workers and teamwork while transactional leaders adhere to a hierarchical structure and promote competition. According to “From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision” written by Bernard M. Bass, a distinguished Professor of Management and director of the Center for Leadership Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton, “Superior leadership performance — transformational leadership — occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.” (Bass, 1990) In other words, effective leaders are those who are able to inspire their workers and achieve tasks by fulfilling their emotional needs and stimulate them intellectually.

According to the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire employees find transformational leaders more satisfying than transactional leaders as they are charismatic and capable of earning the employees trust and confidence. These results are not limited to the US as similar responses to the MLQ have been found in companies around the world proving that transformational leaders’ close interaction with their subordinates is deeply appreciated and respected by them. Constant intervention and support motivate employees to work harder and provide the company with higher production. “Organizations whose leaders are transactional are less effective than those whose leaders are transformation.” (Bass, 1990). Moreover Pew’s “Women and Leadership” made a survey to Americans in 2015 where they found that 34% believed that women are more ethical, fair and better mentors than men. How does this help a company? Being fair and ethical gives a good image and reputation to a company, which may use this image as an advantage over competitors. Also, being good mentors allows them to easily guide new workers and make them more efficient and profitable for a company proving that women can be trusted when it comes to leadership skills.

Having women in high management positions has proven to be more profitable to companies than having only males. According to the article from CNBC “Companies with more female executives make more money—here’s why” companies with a higher number of women in management positions have a higher status and at least 1 percent more net margin compared to those where there are only males. Moreover, hiring women also creates an environment with less gender discrimination which, results in a more inclusive workforce that is able to use its human resources to its full capacity.

A study from the University of California found that the 25 firms with the highest percentage of women in management positions presented median returns on assets and equity of at least 74% more than the firms with no women in management positions. In fact, a study performed by Nordea showed that from 11,000 companies those that had a female chief executive officer experienced an annualized return of 25% since 2009 which is more than twice the 11% delivered by the MSCI “The results are clear: companies run by women perform far better than the market.” (Nordea, 2009). Women have not only proven to be more profitable but also that they have a higher education than men. According to the research by the Institute for Family Studies 23.5 percent of men are married to women with a higher level of education. In fact, around 56% of college students are women which mean that at least there is 2.2 million fewer men in college than women proving once more that women are constantly improving themselves to be more efficient.

 

Many people believe that transformational leaders are constantly on a moral mission because they believe on change. Transformational leaders must constantly promote their vision to encourage their subordinates to do their part which may result in a problem if the workers find out that the leader has not been following his or her vision. In this type of situation workers may get terribly discouraged and rebel or cease their participation. Also, transformational leaders’ main function is to motivate and encourage workers which may result useless with workers that already motivated as these people will need a leader who guides them with precise and cold decisions. Another aspect that should never be omitted by a transformational leader is inclusiveness. Workers may get demotivated if they are not included in important decisions or if their participation is diminished.

According to “Transformational Leadership Glory” by Mark Homrig & Col Harry Le Boeuf, transformational leadership may not always be effective when it comes to make quick decisions and sometimes transformational leaders may use transactional techniques.

According to Air Force Colonel Mark Homrig, transformational leadership may also be used in unethical ways as the leaders have such a deep connection with their followers that they may use this connection for his or her selfish motives. The article even provides examples of transformational leaders that have used their charisma for terrible motives like Hitler as he appealed to the values of the Germans and offered a transcendental vision. In other words, transformational leadership may become a double-edged sword as it may help the company, but it may also bring its downfall. Therefore, transactional leadership is more convenient as this type of leaders do not have a deep connection with workers and thus they cannot influence them the same way a transformational leader would. However, the belief that transformational leaders must constantly promote their vision to encourage their subordinates is questionable because transformational leaders are able to earn their workers trust because of the way they present their vision and inspire workers and although they may need to remind their subordinates of what his or her vision is in the beginning workers eventually follow these leaders because they have to understand what their vision is and they are willing to make that vision possible. Also, the belief that says that motivated workers do not really need further motivation are based on the assumption that these workers won’t eventually get demotivated and need someone who encourages them to keep going.  Regarding the part that mentions that workers may be discouraged and cease participation if they discover that the leader has not been following his or her vision is a little bit unrealistic as most workers are not naïve or emotionally connected to their bosses. If they find out that their boss has done something they are not satisfied with they can complain to higher ranks. As for the article that talks about transformational leadership being a double-edge sword it may be questionable because the examples that it provides about negative effects of transformational leaders, like Hitler, are situations that may not apply to a company and as stated before workers are not naïve or emotional enough to do something that may cost them their jobs. Transformational leadership is used to motivate workers to do their jobs.

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In conclusion women have given enough proof that they can be as capable as men when it comes to higher responsibilities within a company. Women tend to resort to transformational techniques when addressing a problem, which results in them being seen as more efficient and satisfying leaders by their subordinates. Moreover, studies have shown that the number of women that receive education each year is constantly increasing to the point that it has already surpassed the amount of men receiving education showing that women are educated and efficient enough to occupy high ranks in their workplaces.

  References:

  • Maddock, S. (2002). Modernization requires transformational skills: The need for a gender-balanced workforce. Women in Management Review17(1), 12-17.
  • Sandberg, S. (2018, October 23). Sheryl Sandberg: Progress for Women Isn’t Just Slow-It’s Stalled. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/sheryl-sandberg-on-what-companies-need-to-do-to-lean-in-1540267620
  • Pearl-Martinez, R., & Stephens, J. C. (2016). Toward a gender diverse workforce in the renewable energy transition. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy12(1), 8-15.
  • Fuhrmans, V. (2018, October 23). What #MeToo Has to Do With the Workplace Gender Gap. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-metoo-has-to-do-with-the-workplace-gender-gap-1540267680
  • Eagly, A. H., & Johannesen‐Schmidt, M. C. (2001). The leadership styles of women and men. Journal of social issues57(4), 781-797.
  • Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1994). Shatter the glass ceiling: Women may make better managers. Human resource management33(4), 549-560.
  • Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., & Atwater, L. (1996). The transformational and transactional leadership of men and women. Applied psychology45(1), 5-34.
  • Hess, A. (2017, November 21). For the first time in history, women are better educated than their husbands-but men still earn more. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/21/women-are-better-educated-than-their-husbands-but-men-still-earn-more.html
  • Sneader, K., & Yee, L. (2018, October 23). How to Overcome the Isolation of Women in the Workplace. Retrieved December 13, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-overcome-the-isolation-of-women-in-the-workplace-1540267320
  • Eagly, A. H., Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C., & Van Engen, M. L. (2003). Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: A meta-analysis comparing women and men. Psychological bulletin129(4), 569.
  • Ayman, R., Korabik, K., & Morris, S. (2009). Is Transformational Leadership Always Perceived as Effective? Male Subordinates’ Devaluation of Female Transformational Leaders 1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology39(4), 852-879.

 

 

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