Female Leaders And Transformational Leadership Management Essay

As the number of females in management level increase in recent years, their leadership style and the subordinates’ behavior are worth investigated. Among all leadership styles, most female leaders choose transformational leadership. As stated by Powell (2004), when female leaders use transformational leadership style, they will be evaluated more favorably than male leaders. The reason behind is that transformational leadership is more associated with the feminine than masculine gender stereotype. The women transformational leaders also develop different behavior in trust and lead to different team effectiveness and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB).

Transformational leadership

The concept of transformational leadership was first introduced by Burns (1978) [ii] stating that transformational leadership is a process which “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation”. Bass (1985) [iii] further developed Burns’s concept that transformational leadership entailed establishing oneself as a role model by gaining followers’ trust and confidence. Transformational leaders state future goals, develop plans to achieve those goals, and innovate, even when their organization is generally successful. Transformational leaders are idealized that they are a moral example of working towards the benefit of the team, organization and community.

Bass (1985) theorized that transformational leadership comprises four dimensions: individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence. Individualized consideration is the leader’s role towards the followers and concerns their needs. The leader gives support and empathy to followers so as to motivate them to accomplish the tasks. Intellectual stimulation is about the leader’s attitude towards creativity and risks. Transformational leaders are willing to take risks and encourage followers to think independently and creatively. They think that the unexpected situations are the opportunity to learn. Inspiration motivation concerns the extents of leaders motivate the followers by giving them a clear vision to follow. When the followers understand the vision, they are willing to pay more effort in completing tasks and consequently bring benefits to the team and company. Idealized influence is that leaders provide a role exemplar to followers demonstrating their ability and ethics to gain respect and trust of them.

The four dimensions of transformational leadership are widely used in measuring transformational leadership. This leadership style concerns to influence followers to work better and eventually lead to intrinsic motivation towards the tasks. As this kind of leadership is always perceived as effective, it is becoming popular in the business industry as well as government.

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Female Leaders and transformational leadership

It was obvious that women were not favor in filling high-level leadership position. Gary Yukl (2010) [iv] suggested that this phenomenon was due to the gender-based discrimination about men were more qualified than women for leadership roles and involves three main assumptions. These assumptions were about traits and skills required for effective leadership in organizations, about instinctive differences between men and women, and about the appropriate behavior for men and women. These hindered women from holding important and high-level leadership position in early years.

However, the portion of women in executive level is increasing in recent years. Cookburn (1991) [v] suggested that stereotypes of women include kindness, compassion, nurturing and sharing lead to a higher concern for women regarding interpersonal relationship and consensus building. These unique characteristics bring women to high-level positions in company. And also due to these special attributes, women are more likely to choose transformational leadership style.

Women are always strong at showing the individualized consideration to followers. As they concern the interrelationship between people, they will undoubtedly show their support and empathy to the subordinates for the benefit of themselves and the whole team. The evidence is given by Eagly & Johannessen-Schmidt (2002) [vi] that women were rated higher than men in most aspects of transformational leadership. As a result, women using transformational leadership style are perceived easier to bring to the success of teams.


Trust between leader and subordinate is a key element of a team success. Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer (1998) [vii] defined trust as “a psychological state comprising the intention to accept the vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another”. Trust is important in some perspectives like reduction of harmful conflict and promotion of effective responses to crisis (Rousseau et al. 1998). For a company, it is crucial for employees’ trust in the leader in explaining the visions and motivates employees to support the organization (Howarth, & Rafferty, 2009) [viii] . Moreover, some studies (Sandy, & Uma 1994; Perry, & Mankin, 2004) [ix] xindicated that the gender of leaders and subordinates is an important factor in perceived behavior. Therefore, understanding the trusting behavior of subordinates to a women leader can help on the better development of team and company.

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Trust and gender

The difference between women and men in interdependence is that women are more relationally interdependent while men are more collectively interdependent (Gabriel & Gardner, 1999) [xi] . The article states that women place more emphasis on relationships and interpersonal connections, while men are more likely to emphasize more depersonalized group memberships and the importance of group identity. This can attribute to the nature and way of bringing up of women. Women are always by nature more sociable. They are more removed and protected than are men from many of the unpleasant aspects of human nature (Wrightsman, 1974) [xii] . They are brought up with more concern about care and built up good relationship with others. This socialization process trains women to assume the best or to think well of people. So, as a result, women consider the relationship with people more than men do.

In some studies (Schwieren and Sutter, 2004 [xiii] ; Slonim, 2004 [xiv] ), the difference of trusting behavior between men and women is not significant. In a trust game by Eckel and Wilson (2004) [xv] , the result indicated that women trust less than men. But this is limited for the decisions made during the game. In normal condition, the gender has no effects on trust. Nevertheless, it can be deduced that women will trust the individuals with good relationship. They think that the one they rely on will act for the best of them. However, Maddux and Brewer (2005) [xvi] stated that although women may have actually trusted the relationship target more than men, they are less likely to make risky decision. That is, from the decision point of view, women will not take the risk and rather choose a safe option. This is not related to the matter of trust.

Trust and transformational leadership

The basic theory of transformational leadership posits trust as a central feature of the relationship that leaders have with their followers, and assume that it is through the follower’s trust in their leader (Bennis & Nanus, 1985) [xvii] . This behavior of trust motivates the followers to perform better and beyond the expectations. In recent meta-analysis on trust and leadership, Dirks & Ferrin (2002) [xviii] reported that the transformational leadership is a strongly predictive of trust. The evidences are given by other researchers (Bennis et al. 1985; Butler, Cantrell, & Flick, 1999 [xix] ; Conger, Kanungo, & Menon, 2000 [xx] ).

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Back to the four dimensions of transformational leadership, the researchers (Bennis et al. 1985; Butler et al. 1999; Conger et al. 2000) found that they all enhance trust between leaders and subordinates. Individualized consideration concerns about communication between leader and subordinates, understanding of needs and capabilities and developing subordinates’ strengths, which can demonstrate the care of leader about them. As a consequence, trust will build between both parties. Intellectual stimulation reinforces the leader’s commitment to the development of the subordinates as well as the team, hence trust is built. Leader motivates and focuses subordinates’ efforts on tasks and goal, which is considered as inspirational motivation, can increase the trust level of both sides. Finally, idealized influence of leader shows the integrity and competence. Subordinates rely on the behaviors of leader and determine whether their leader is trustworthy. So, in general, transformational leaders are always perceived as trustworthy and easy to gain trust from subordinates.

Impact of trust and women transformational leaders on team effectiveness

Trust in the leader is associated with the effort employees put into work (Dirks, & Ferrin. 2002) [xxi] . The more effort employees put into work can be regarded as higher effectiveness of the leader. Gomez & Rosen (2001) [xxii] reported that team members’ trust in their leader would be positively associated with the perceptions of leader’s effectiveness. Therefore, the higher degree of trust on the leader, the better effectiveness them team will be.

Women as leaders are always perceived as less effective than men (Eagly, Karau, Makhijani, 1995) [xxiii] . Eagly et al. (1995) found that male managers were more effective than women managers in positions that required strong task skills, while women managers were more effective in positions that required strong interpersonal skills. This finding is consistent with the previous statement of Wrightman (1974) that women are strong at and concern relationship with people. It can be predicted that for a position that required strong interpersonal skills and a female transformational leader has good relationship with subordinates, the trusting behavior will enhance the team effectiveness.

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