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Are Women Better Suited to Project Leadership than Men?

COMMENTARY ARTICLE

By Sharon De Mascia

United Kingdom

 

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Abstract

Research into leadership styles suggests that we are moving towards a more ‘Transformational’ style which emphasis emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Meanwhile, some studies have found that women have an advantage over men when it comes to the emotional aspects of leadership. Does this mean that women are naturally good at transformational leadership? If so, then my next question is “why are women still under-represented in project leadership?”

It would be easy to give knee-jerk answers to these questions, but before you all jump in with your comments and opinions (which are definitely welcome), let’s survey the evidence and see what it tells us?

The Evidence

The leadership literature has undergone a journey from the more traditional Transactional styles of leadership to a more Transformational style of leadership which incorporates: Authentic Leadership and Emotionally Intelligent Leadership. This style of Leadership is relatively new and emphases motivation and engagement along with the creation of a shared vision. There is also an emphasis on Individualized Consideration and providing a role model for high ethical behaviour which encourages respect and trust. There is a growing body of research evidence suggesting that this type of leadership is very effective in modern day organisations. Eagly (2007) reports a meta-analysis by Judge et al (2004) which examined of 87 studies testing the relationships between leadership styles and measures of leaders’ effectiveness. They found that Transformational Leadership was associated with greater effectiveness.

Project leadership appears to be undergoing a similar, parallel journey to leadership in general, where there is a move away from traditional project management with a focus on planning and controls, towards an increasing recognition of the value that behavioural sciences can add and an acknowledgement of the fact that people factors are critical for the success of projects. This has resulted in a shift towards a more emotionally intelligent perspective (Briner 1992)

This shift in the focus of project management suggests that a more transformational style of leadership is required, which can harness the energy/motivation of project teams/stakeholders and unite them behind a common vision. This is particularly true of those projects that involve significant change for the end users or members of an organisation. These kinds of projects require even more of the Emotional Intelligence aspect of Transformational Leadership in order to recognise and effectively manage the range of complex emotions that organisational change provokes.

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About the Author

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Sharon De Mascia

United Kingdom

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Sharon De Mascia is the Director of Cognoscenti Business Psychologists Ltd. She is a chartered occupational psychologist and a chartered scientist. She is an expert in Wellbeing, Leadership and Change/Project Management. She has over 25 years’ experience of delivering change/project management, wellbeing, leadership, entrepreneurship and other organizational initiatives across all sectors e.g. Santander, The BBC, Vita Group, The Highways Agency, NHS, Movember, and ATL etc.

Sharon is a published author and an executive coach as well as being a supervisor for the global MBA at Manchester Business School. Sharon is Prince2 qualified and is a guest lecturer at two Universities i.e. the Manchester Metropolitan University and the Liverpool John Moores University. She also teaches Project Leadership at the University of Reykjavik. She is a member of the British Psychological Society ‘Health and Wellbeing group’ and a committee member of the Association of Business Psychologists. She is also the Organizer for the CIPD ‘Signet’ group for Independent Consultants.

Sharon is the author of the book Project Psychology: Using Psychological Models and Techniques to Create a Successful Project, published by Gower.   www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9780566089428

Sharon can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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Linkedin.com/sharondemascia

Facebook.com/cognoscentibusinesspsychologists

http://www.cognoscenti.uk.com/