Battle of the Sexes: Male vs. Female Leadership

Battle of the Sexes: Male vs. Female Leadership

Do men and women lead differently?

While they share the same responsibilities in any given leadership role, researchers have found that in all the areas that really set leaders apart like how helpful, supportive and personally engaged they are, male and female leaders typically vary.

The result? Men and women tend to have two distinctly different leadership styles that shape how they run their teams.

Let’s begin with ladies first.

Females Are Transformational Leaders

Several studies show that women tend to use what’s called the transformational leadership style. This is a style where “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.”

Picture the leader who, instead of sitting in her office all day, frequently visits her team members while they’re working to offer guidance and encouragement. For most females, leadership isn’t just about accomplishing goals; they want to transform their followers into better people.

Here are some key tactics of transformational leaders:

  • They seek to be a role model who inspires their subordinates
  • They invest a lot of time in coaching their team members and care about their personal development
  • They emphasize teamwork and authentic communication as a key to success

Whether you’re a man or a woman, here are some things you can do to become a more transformational leader:

  • Spend more time engaging with your team members on a personal level
  • Look for ways to inspire your team members to be more motivated in accomplishing your goals

Males are Transactional Leaders

Males on the other hand tend to favor the transactional leadership style. This is more of the old school leadership style where leaders are dominant figures with strict expectations and should not be questioned.

To understand transactional leadership, picture the boss who sits in his office giving orders and receiving progress updates from his employees, but rarely engages with them on a personal level. They’re all about the results.

Key tactics of transactional leaders include:

  • They often remain uninvolved to let their teams focus on their work
  • They wait until problems become severe before they step in take charge of the situation
  • They usually only engage with subordinates to give orders and hold them accountable for making mistakes and/or failing to meet expectations

Here’s how to be a more transactional leader:

  • Give subordinates the freedom to solve problems independently
  • Provide clear directions so team members know how to meet your expectations

Why Do Males and Females Lead Differently?

Both leadership styles have benefits and limitations depending on the environment and team personalities, however, the effectiveness of each strategy isn’t necessarily what drives people to choose them. Research shows there are physiological differences between males and females that explain why females are more transformational while males are more transactional.

Let’s dig into the science.

Neuroscientists have discovered that women have higher oxytocin levels than men. Oxytocin is nicknamed “the cuddle hormone” because it makes you feel connected to people. Because of this, women instinctively care more about their subordinates’ well-being and have a stronger desire to connect with them on a personal level. This is why women, more so than men, view leadership as an opportunity to grow their subordinates as individuals instead of just giving directions to reach goals.

Women’s brains are also better at verbally explaining their emotions. You notice how women feel the need to share their feelings with you and expect you to share your feelings in return–this is why. In the workplace this shows when female leaders ask how you’re feeling about a project instead asking for a progress update.

It should come as no surprise that men are the opposite. They are neurologically wired to focus more on rewards which is why they prefer the performance-oriented transactional leadership style. To them, results yield their greatest sense of satisfaction. .

Many men also naturally fear vulnerability. Being emotionally vulnerable can trigger the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, causing men avoid addressing emotions because it stresses them out. They’d much rather focus on the logical problem-solving that accompanies the transactional leadership style.

Social expectations also play a role in male vs. female leadership styles.

Researchers have found that while males only need to display strength to be respected, women need to show strength and sensitivity. This lends itself well to the transformational leadership style because it allows them to set high expectations while personally helping the members of their teams. It could be that the transformational leadership style is more popular among women simply because it increases their likelihood of success.

Males on the other hand, tend to receive worse evaluations when they are emotional which reinforces their inclination to be stricter, more hands-off transactional leaders.

So Who Wins?

Cheers for the females!  Research shows the transformational leadership style is more effective in the people-centered work environments that are becoming more popular today. Transformational leaders’ natural inclination to support their subordinates’ personal growth and to emphasize open communication allows them to create comfortable work environments and inspire exceptional results.

But, transactional leadership isn’t entirely bad. The benefit of it is subordinates have more autonomy which works for quiet, logical people who want to do their jobs without dealing with a leader who frequently stops by check in or forces them to make friends with their colleagues.

The key to being a successful leader is meeting the needs of your subordinates whether that’s giving them encouragement or the independence to work alone.

Vanessa Van Edwards
Human Behavior
Twitter Email

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her specialty is science based people skills. Vanessa runs t ... Click for full bio

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Written by: Shileen Weber

When the American Funds’ Capital Group  asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.

It was client issues.

At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.

It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.

In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.

But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.

Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.

Content is King

Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.

Review what content is already available to you:  Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.

Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.

Related: What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.

Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.

Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.

Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.

Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.

Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.

The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.

Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
Twitter Email

GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio