The Perception of Effective Female Leadership

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Women continue to contribute the positive influence to political, economic, and social settings. In today’s post-modern society, women rights are recognized and observed in most parts of the world. Moving into the future, it is feasible to believe that the number of females in various leadership positions will certainly increase. On contrary, some societies have a negative perception of women holding leadership positions. Indeed, there is the considerable controversy regarding whether females are more effective leaders than men. However, the clear analysis of the relevant literature reveals that women are effective in these terms just as males.

Effective leadership entails creating the influence on people to share common goals, values, and attitudes to work more effectually to achieve the organizational set goals, objectives, and vision (Bartram and Inceoglu 2002, p. 74). It depends on honesty, integrity, trust, and the sense of sound principles and ethics. These are visible attributes to all effective leaders whether an individual is a male or a female.

The Perception of Female Leadership in the World

Women experience immense challenges to gain leadership roles, primarily because of the traditional gender perceptions and practices that some people still embrace even in present days (Ely et al. 2011, p. 474). The Centre of America Women in Politics (2017) states that there is a huge discrepancy between men and women in political leadership positions. Despite females accounting for the majority votes in America, their representation in the National Congress is only 19.6%. The situation is not any better in other parts of the world, especially in the corporate and elite professional sectors. However, given the same opportunities and chances, women would equally perform political duties and command effective leadership to the electorate and the nation at large just as effective male leaders do. Eagly and Carli (2007, p. 63) argue that in America, women are often praised for exhibiting excellent leadership skills and, as a fact, show more leadership skills linked to effective leadership performance than men.

The general expectation of people is that women should be collective and possess attributes such as hospitability, compassion, and gentleness while men are considered masculine with attributes such as determination, aggressiveness, and self-assurance (Vinkenburg et al. 2011, p. 10). Since people believe that leaders should be more agentic than communal, the masculine characteristics are more likely to be associated as features of an effective leader than the feminine collective attributes (Powell et al. 2002, p. 177).Subsequently, the male leadership role could be assumed as normal at the expense of a woman due to the stereotype (Heilman and Eagly 2008. p. 393). On contrary, it is not always the core determiner of effective leadership but only an assumption.

Nevertheless, the dynamism in the modern society has played a significant role in changing the cultural aspect of leadership. It is due to the fact that today’s organization structure calls for embracing social skills that are highly linked with feminine traits, commonly to facilitates the networking (Eagly and Koenig 2014, p. 84). Women can, therefore, take advantage of this aspect to prove their leadership skills through creating solid teams and networks that win clients over the competitors. Females in leadership often want to be compared to their male counterparts based only on an equal pattern. It happens primarily because women feel as equal and, thus, have alike capabilities to practice their leadership roles similar to men. For this reason, discussions entailing the female leadership could be considered unnecessary and uncalled for within some organization areas but, instead, should be looked at in a general way based on the overall accomplishment (Hausmann 2009).

Characteristics of Women as Leaders

An immense body of research has demonstrated that the common perception of the female gender has an impact on how the world sees and judge women and men holding various leadership positions. Thus, people tend to put more focus on the stereotyped beliefs and not actually on an individual’s ability to perform and produce results irrespective of the gender. Every leader is unique in his or her various ways, and therefore, a leader’s effectiveness should not be gauged based on the stereotyped traits and characteristics of masculinity (Johnson et al. 2008, p. 39). Consequently, it will empower women to do their work not based on double standards to impress but driven by the zeal to perform and realize effective results for an organization, a political office, a personal business, or an elite professional practice.

Secondly, the organizational financial data is a good measure of leadership effectiveness, as identified by Kaufman and Goldstein (2008, p. 22). A leader’s personal ability to steer an organization to improved profits and returns on the investment should, therefore, be a true reflection of an effective leader, whether a male or a female. Correspondingly, it can be related to the individuals at the middle-level management roles and their ability to win new businesses and clients through professionally negotiated mechanisms.

Thirdly, female leaders have been identified to be communicative and innovative from research studies as discussed above in the literature. However, it does not mean that men are lesser innovative and communicative. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to find a very reserved female leader and a very collective male one. Women in such roles should only use their abilities and strengths to affect their leadership qualities by being outgoing and extravagant. Moreover, women’s characteristic of being supportive and accommodative should also be used as the strength to sufficiently display the effective leadership qualities with the valuable sociability degree.

Fourthly, the women’s ability to nurture competencies, their superior intelligence, and emotional powers, as also noted, are an advantage to their leadership. It is due to the fact that the qualities can be used to establish lasting networks and relationships that enable them to navigate through various challenges of leadership and, besides, become better leaders.

Fifthly, just as McEldowney et al. (2009, p. 24) noted, women are significantly underrepresented in various leadership settings both in the politics and in the corporate world. Females must, therefore, advocate for the status quo since they are now more educated and have a wider range of experience and the ability and the possibility to engage in the leadership positions than in the previous years.

Concurrently, there is the need to empower more women both in the developed and developing nations so that the world exploits the underlying potential that they have to transform the world and make it a better place. Examples of some explicitly effective leaders who have made it in the politics field include Hillary Clinton, the first ever female presidential candidate in American history, Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. It is a clear indication that the world is developing in the right direction, although much still needs to be done. However, it should serve as a motivation to the women.

Moreover, as Eaglyand and Sczesny (2009, p. 26) reported, the most significant and visible indicator that would show that gender equality has been achieved can be an approximately equal representation of males and females in leadership positions. When it is achieved, the researchers can stand in a better position trying to identify whether women are more effective leaders than men. At the moment, the studies are indirect and may be biased because there is an immense imbalance between males and females in leadership roles, as it is supported by Weyer (2007, p. 482).

Finally, women are competent leaders while men are equally good. However, the limiting factor for females not to perform well is mainly due to gender imbalance and negative gender stereotypes. The world needs to treat women with dignity and accept them as equal partners in running daily affairs including holding senior government or corporate organizations’ top leadership positions (Inglehart and Norris 2003, p. 27).

Female Leaders in Comparison with Male Ones

Women stand better placed for leadership roles based on factors such as clarity, innovations, and the power to develop and execute purpose-driven goals. Similarly, males can withstand more stress and job-related problems. However, it does not mean that those females are decisively more suited to leadership roles than males. Moreover, the study identified 7000 leaders from top corporate organizations across the world from which 64% were found to be men, and the higher the rank was, the number of men was increasing (Zenger et al. 2011 p. 84). Thus, the identifying factor is that women have some attributes that lead to effective leadership while men also have their own traits that make then strong for the proper influence. Therefore, it is not justifiable to state that one gender presents more effective leaders than the other.

Eagly et al. (2003, p. 570) also shared similar sentiments from their meta-analysis finding that women leaders were more transformation-oriented and also somehow transactional compared to their male colleagues. The study identifies that although the discrepancy was small, the findings had positive implications on the effectiveness of the female leadership. Other studies that echo this information include those conducted by Boivie et al. (2016, p. 319), Dalton et al. (1988, p. 269), Davis et al. (2010, p. 475), Dezsö and Ross (2010, p. 1072), and Llopis (2014, p. 2016). These works support the argument that some particular virtues are identified in every gender in terms of effective leadership.

Female leadership involves different types distinct from the society’s stereotypes of female gender leaders. Some women have the alpha male quality that is straight and no-nonsense (Gadiesh and Coffman 2015). Such women have initiated organizations or build the distinguished career according to basics of the male-dominated leadership. In this case, Hewlett Packard’s CEO Meg Whitman can serve as a perfect example. Besides, other women are leaders that are ambitious and driven by the power to personally succeed and advocate for the whole-covering equality at the places of work. Eventually, they become great influencers and strong leaders by combining their respective life experiences and leadership philosophies that they use as the guiding structures.

Further, another study notes that women varnish as one promotes own career in an organization setting (Sherwin 2014a). Sherwin (2014b) accepts that there is a minimal variance across the globe, but the trend is extremely consistent. The study revealed that women comprise more than the half of the American organizations’ workforce. However, at every demanding successive stage of leadership, the number of females suddenly drops. Considering the CEO level, the situation becomes even worse as there are 3%-4% women in this position across the globe. Despite the huge differences, a meta-analysis study conducted by Hoobler et al. (2006) to identify the effect of women’s representation in top leadership roles on the overall performance of an organization found that, indeed, it was more likely for females to have direct positive effects particularly in the performance of sales.


To conclude, leadership is a complicated issue. Thus, irrespective of a gender, its effectiveness is dictated by whether or not someone has particular required skills, competencies, and traits to govern or lead others. It is also not proven that females cannot become as good leaders as males. The primary reason why men dominate leadership positions in America and across the world is that the society still embraces the hierarchical traditions and stereotypes about gender. Therefore, identifying whether women are more effective leaders than men, this paper suggests that the former can equally perform well in positions of leaders as the latter.


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January 19, 2024




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