Essay on Managerial Styles: Men vs. Women

Do men and woman have different managerial styles?

There are two predominant theories fueling the debate on our present perception of “management style”. One of the working theories, the psychological perspective, suggests men and women differ in management style because of experiences while growing up. A second, the situational perspective, argues that similar situations produce similar behaviors with no regard to gender. Neither theory offers concrete evidence, while both offer insights to the perception of today’s corporate choice. Profits and the “bottom line” is the motivator for this perception and why men are perceived as having the best managerial style.

The psychological perspective suggests men tend to be more competitive, demonstrate more independence, and are instrumentally oriented. This can be perceived as a true statement. A school playground will be predominately gender segregated. Male children are often the game players, while females are found in social groups. This segregation provides different rewards for different behaviors. Competitiveness, independence, rewards power or leadership. Social groups, talking, generally lead to experiencing emotion and offers comfort and support. Making it easy to presume effective management is a male trait. For example, a necessary tool like communication provides differences in styles of management. One researcher concludes that “when men were speaking in a group, they tend to compete to capture the floor, while women tended to take turns speaking.” (Grant 56-63). This one tool shows style difference in that men competitively seek a position at the top of the pyramid, while the female seeks the more neutral or middle position. This theory shows a very clear difference in style.

The situational perspective suggests men and women are equal in similar situations. It is also proposed that the environment they both experience while operating in similar situations should produce similar results. This theory does not argue against different styles, only end results. Rosabeth Moss Kanter provides an example from her study of corporate bureaucracy. She argues that “regardless of gender, managers who were ‘stuck’ or ‘plateaued’ behaved very differently from those who were moving up.” Although the theory that men and women may produce similar results given the same circumstances, they will manage differently depending on perception of that circumstance.

Both theories demonstrate a strong influence of male domination in management. Traditional views and learned social behavior continue to point heavily toward male dominance in this arena. Newer thinking and perspectives proposing that the job makes the person has yet to curb corporate view of the money making style of management. Right or wrong, men produce, while women support. For example, use your own image of a manager. When the word is used, do you conjure an image of a male or female?

In conclusion, we can see a clear difference in management styles of men and women. Profits continue to drive decisions on what type of management style is used. Is there a correct answer to the question of who possesses the better management style? More debate and accumulated fact is needed to provide a concrete answer. As for the question “Do men and woman have different managerial styles?” the answer is yes.

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