Should Gender Be An Issue when it comes to Leadership?

Gender and leadership has always been a hotly debated topic in the corporate world.
As much as women and men strive to be equal in the workplace and society in general, it is impossible to deny the fact that men and women are fundamentally different. Of course, this difference extends beyond the physical. While men and women are equally intelligent and capable, they traditionally have different ways of dealing with people and therefore different leadership styles.

At times,  leadership styles were purely stereotypical when it came to gender.

Men were expected to be aggressive, heavy handed and operate with autocratic methods. Women ware expected to be more caring and democratic.

However, as times have changed, so has corporate America. There is less division among genders and new styles of leadership have arisen that allow men to break out of their stereotypical roles and allows women to flourish in management.

Transformational leadership is one such example.

Many organizations today have taken on this highly effective style. Women seem to be naturally adept at his type of leadership so many opportunities have opened up for them in particular. However, transformational leadership roles are not confined to women. Men also enjoy being able to lead in a way that encourages natural support rather than being heavy handed.

In society in general today, gender roles are blurring. Tasks that once were considered "women's work" are now performed by men. Some men choose to stay home and raise the kids, be the "soccer mom," and take responsibility for maintaining the home. As gender roles become more relaxed and accepted as normal, they transfer to the workplace.

Leadership roles are changing as a result. It is no longer rare to see women in management roles and it's because they are capable and effective, not because it’s the trendy thing to do. However, we are still far from complete gender equality when it comes to corporate leadership.

You'll come across all kinds of opinions and studies on the matter. For everyone who says women are better natural leaders, you'll find someone else who says men are better.
If you look at the traits of the genders, you probably associate women with being nurturing and fair. You may think of men as being authoritative and unyielding. But isn't this just stereotypical thinking?

There are certainly plenty of nurturing men and aggressive women. The roles of men and women are ever changing and a wise company will be looking towards the future rather than being locked in to old ways of thinking about gender and leadership roles. To pass over a capable employee simply because she is female, or to promote a male because he is expected to be aggressive, is no longer a good approach. People don't always live up to their stereotypes and that is proven to be true over and over when looking at leadership/gender.

Leadership and gender is a topic every corporation needs to take seriously. Gender discrimination is illegal but it still exists even if done covertly.
This causes some women to be passed over for leadership roles or causes conflict when they are chosen. Women have their own unique challenges when they take on a leadership role in certain situations.

In others, like the nursing field, female leaders are considered norm. In predominantly male occupations, women may face challenge. But the reverse is also true. It seems like gender and roles in leadership  seem to fit particular occupations. The same could be said for gender and leadership styles.

Broadly speaking, women tend to excel in participatory leadership styles while men tend to excel in transactional leadership roles. To maximize employee satisfaction and productivity, a corporation may do well to choose a leader based upon his or her own individual style rather than trying to force anyone into a stereotypical gender role.

When it comes to leadership and gender, you can't say that any one gender is better suited than the other.

One thing the last few decades has taught us is that men and women are equally capable. People should be judged on their individual ability, gender aside. Corporate American should be aware though of the inequities that exist and work towards completely eliminating the glass ceiling so women are always given equal consideration as their male counterparts when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder.

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