gender roles management theory leadership total quality management business excellence
Leadership for Business Excellence: The Gender Perspective in, editor(s)K. J. Foley and P. Hermel , The Theories and Practices of Organization Excellence: New Perspectives, Sydney, SAI Global, 2008, pp 269 - 293, [Eileen Drew]
The adoption of appropriate forms of leadership in response to modern organizational
needs has become a major strand of management theory and underpins the pursuit of
Total Quality/Business Excellence. With some notable exceptions, most of the leadership
literature ignores the gender dimension of leadership This gender blindness and the
association ofh management and leadership with men is being challenged through
feminist/gender studies drawing upon ideas about power, communication, empathy and
equality from the women's movement. Changing gender roles have been evolving in
parallel with the quest for Total Quality/Business Excellence.
This paper reviews traditional and emerging theories of leadership and management and
examines them in the context of changing organizational needs demanded by the
adoption of quality and excellence approaches. It explores the broader range of required
leadership skills, from a gender perspective, including those previously not considered of
value: "people" and interpersonal skills, the ability to build bridges, to be vision/missiondriven
and able to react quickly to a constantly changing environment, maintaining
competitive strength by holding onto highly trained and valued employees.
Drawing upon an international study of 1686 political and business leaders across 27
industrialized countries, the paper presents the views of leaders on gender differences in
management style. To validate, and elaborate on, these results, a small national sub
sample of Irish political (three male, four female) and business leaders (two male, four
female) were interviewed about differences in leadership style between men and women.
The unanimous responses from women and men suggest that a difference exists, though
there was considerable variation in how that difference was perceived by respondents.
The interviewees were also asked about their own personal styles which gave rise to
some interesting and gendered observations. The paper concludes by drawing upon the
empirical evidence presented against the backdrop of changing leadership requirements
within organizations that follow a Total Quality/Excellence path.
The adoption of appropriate forms of leadership and a preoccupation with new responses
to modern organizational needs has become a major strand of management and
organizational texts (Bradford and Cohen 1998); Thorne (1992); Zand (1997); Champy
(1995). Some theorists have revisited and refined the works of earlier management
theorists (Grint 1997; Wright 1996) while others stress the transformational and learning
context for new forms of leadership (Lessem 1991; Tichy and Devanna 1990). With
some notable exceptions, most of the leadership literature ignores the gender dimension
of leadership and implicitly management and leadership are seen as male roles. This
gender blindness came under challenge in the 1980s and 1990s. The source of this
challenge to orthodox and 'new' management theories has come through feminist/gender
studies which draw upon ideas about power, communication, empathy and equality from
the women's movement. Changing gender roles have been evolving in parallel with the
quest for Total Quality/Business Excellence.
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