Success of a company largely depends on ways in which the management develops plan and then leads the teams to reach its desired aim and meet with business objectives. In the postmodern business scenario, both men and women leaders have remained successful in assisting companies like Pepsico and Apple to grow successfully in the respective domain. Leadership traits are significant for management study. It has been often argued that every leader is a manger however every manager is not leader. Research confirms that both men and women have specific attributes and approach towards leading the team. Gender discrimination at workplace is a cliché that is very much in vogue nowadays. With the rising demand of women empowerment, sexual harassment and workplace hassles have become a part of corporate life. Although women participation in workplace has gone through a major change, yet women tend to remain vastly unrepresented at the apex level of organizations. The elite leadership positions are till date largely considered being male authority, whereas undervaluation of women’s effectiveness as leaders can be termed as one of the potent outcomes of the prevalent gender bias (Giacalone, 2011). The essay here would further present and insight about ways in which the women leader from Pepsico achieved matchless success by eliminating the metaphors “glass ceiling” and “firewall” she lead the team since 1994 and won accolades like most powerful women in 2014 and top 100 influential people in world in 2007 (Kellerman et al. 2007).
The essay here would discuss how far gender discrimination still plays a key role in corporate world and women are discriminated under the “think male” attitude. Low pay package and glass ceiling are common techniques of practicing discrimination in the corporate world with special reference to male and women leadership approaches and professional success story.
Women in corporate leadership role
One of the significant barriers in women’s progress in management lies in gender stereotyping of the leadership positions. Global data confirms that a negligible percentage of women holds leadership role in prominent position. It has been further identified that top organisational positions are difficult to obtain by most women, for example among 500 companies in America, only 14.7 percent women are in the Board. Barriers to women in corporate world exist globally. The epoch making gender discrimination case of Wal-Mart against women was prominent reported in Economists 2004. Wal-Mart was charged for practicing sex discrimination in pay, promotion and training that affected millions of women employees and the case Dukes v Mal-Mart Stores was filed in United States of America to fight sex biasness. This idea is so deeply rooted in the human minds that results in gender-based discrimination. It is from this perception that gender-based discrimination plays a major role in offices (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2011). Arguments regarding the female advantage in leadership have their respective origin from the particular belief that women are far more likely to take up empowering as well as collaborative leadership styles while men love to follow the leadership styles that are inclusive of assertion of power and command-and-control behaviours (Jr and Muhammad, 2015).
One of the major causes of such perceptions is due to the reluctance of many women for women empowerment. The misogyny and patriarchy is so deep rooted in people’s mind that even different women speak against women empowerment. It has been found that prejudiced attitude towards women leaders has been born out of the perceived incongruity that can be observed between the innate female characteristics and requirements of leader roles. There needs to be a prominent cultural shift that would support female advantage in leadership and that does not necessarily mean men are incompetent lots as leaders (Page, 2011). Men or women – both can take charge of a situation and act as leaders and gender difference has nothing to do with it; but the stereotypical mind-sets prevent the majority in accepting this simple fact.
Gender sensitivity and leadership perception
Gender leadership has a played a significant role in business management. Studies highlight the fact that men and women leaders nurture different perception. On average women leaders are democratic and participative in nature, while men leaders adopt a top-down command and control, style. For example, women business leaders like Susan Vinnicombe, of Bodyshop mentioned that she prefer incorporating feminine principles while leading the team. Similarly male leaders like Steve Jobs and others adopt performance focussed, transactional leadership style with hierarchical structure. To illustrate the issue and women leadership traits, leadership style of Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, Pepsico could be referred here (Tracy, 2014).
She has adopted few approaches and then concocted it with situational demand to meet with the objectives of the company and achieve growth and success. It has been studied that she has adopted approaches like situational leadership, democratic along with maternal style and charismatic leadership to maintain employee engagement and lead the team in a defined manner (Kellerman et al. 2007). Her leadership style has proved extremely effective in various situations like, whenever a fresh and creative idea was needed, constantly changing situation when consultation is in need and flexibility helped in solving different types of problems.
In order to understand the male leadership style, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Apple is referred for better understanding and analysis. A strong visionary with democratic approach and charismatic yet thoughtful style helped Cook adopt unique approaches to completely transform the business and earn high profit growth in just few years’ time. Tim Cook the new leader of Apple indulged into leading the team in a unique way. Following autocratic traits of Jobs, he adopted a democratic approach. He initiated the team leading approaches primarily with discussing with the technical team and also took their feedback while introducing new product line. While Jobs constantly adopted autocratic approach and rarely involved employees in decision making, Cook preferred supervising, discussing and in constant motivation (Deluca, 2009).
Thus it may be mentioned that both male and female leaders adopted specific styles to motivate their team and achieve organisational growth.
Thus it could be inferred here that though apparently male and women leaderships style in different, yet they are adopted as per the demand of the situation and organisational culture. While men are more goal-oriented, women leaders are more relationship- oriented and work towards achieving absolute harmony. Communication style is often different, however irrespective of differences the best leaders of the corporate world as evaluated should possess traits like, listen, motivate and offer complete support to the team and achieve seamless growth and matchless performances through encouraging innovation and create opportunities for growth and prosperity.
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