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Management styles most suited for female leaders

Shopping for management styles? Most successful female leaders have advanced in their careers by adapting their leadership style. Read on and discover how they did it without compromising their feminine side!

So often, women who wish to reach leadership positions find themselves wondering if they should adopt certain management styles. Or if there are particular leadership styles that are more effective than others. When they start looking around, they often find that the favored management styles within their organizations tend to be a good fit for men but not so much for women. What to do in this case? Adapt to the masculine ways of making decisions and relating to subordinates that seem to work well in your organization’s culture, or figure out what works best with your own personality?

Read Leadership Styles: Identify your Own
As a Leader is it important to have the flexibility to adjust your style to the audience you are leading - Management Styles quote by Carla Dodds

Management Styles quote by Carla Dodds

As I was thinking about how difficult it is for many of us to advance in our careers without giving up our personal style, I decided to ask three very successful women about their own management and conflict-resolution styles. I wanted to know if they thought there were supervisory styles better suited for women or for a particular industry. As part of the mini-interview, we presented them with the generally accepted definitions of six basic management styles, which you can read below.

The 6 Management Styles Defined

1Autocratic: This manager makes decisions unilaterally without much input from employees, reflecting the opinions and personality of the manager.

2Chaotic: This manager gives employees total control over the decision making process.

3Consultative: An autocratic style in which the manager listens to feedback from employees and adjusts when necessary.

4Democratic: The manager allows decisions to be made by the majority of employees. Decision-making is slow, but there is more employee buy-in.

5Laissez-faire: The manager is a mentor and stimulator, and employees manage their own areas of the business.

6Persuasive: An autocratic style in which the manager spends time working with employees to convince them of the benefits of the decision that has been made.

Belisa de las Casas

Director, Latin America, WEConnect International, an international organization created by a consortium of large corporations to identify, train, and certify small, women-owned businesses to increase supplier diversity.  www.weconnectinternational.org- Twitter handle: @weconnection

If you speak Spanish, don’t miss the amazing interview with Belisa de las Casas on Oportunidades de Negocios para Mujeres Emprendedoras
Would you like to know what is Belisa de las Casas, director Latin America, WEConnect International management style?

Belisa de las Casas, director Latin America, WEConnect International

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative.

  1. Why does this management style work for you?

I like my ideas to be challenged so that they improve. I like to work in a team environment and use all the team members’ talents. I believe that ideas can always be improved with the input of professionals with different backgrounds.

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

You have to be open to constructive criticism. If you ask for an opinion, you will get one. So, be ready. On the same note, when you ask for an opinion, you are generating an expectation. The expectation is that you will take it into consideration and if you don’t, the collaborator might not take it nicely. In order for this style to work, you have to know who to consult with, and be very clear about the “ask.” You choose who to ask. It’s not democratic.

  1. Does each one of these styles work better in a specific industry? If so, please write the industry next to the style.

Consultative – Good for any industry.

Democratic – Good for the legal industry.

Laissez-faire – Good for creative industries.

Persuasive – Good for sales, and for financial industries.

  1. Do you feel that one of these management styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

Democratic – By nature, women try to be democratic.

Lily Benjamin

VP, Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp., one of the largest branded apparel companies in the world, owners of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and other major brands.

What is the management style of Lily Benjamin, VP and Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp

Lily Benjamin, VP and Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative, persuasive

  1. Why do these management styles work for you

I do not believe that Consultative and Persuasive are autocratic styles. For me, they both fall under the umbrella of Collaborative styles, as the intention is to gain input, leverage the collective intelligence, and at the end make a final decision that is best for all. I believe that as a leader my responsibility is to set direction, seek alignment, and motivate people into action, which I do through Consultation and Persuasion. My #1 is Consultative, as I believe in shared leadership, because all perspectives count. Though at the end of the day, when I have to make a final decision and when the input calls for agreeing to disagree, I like to persuasively draw people towards the outcome. (Rather than forcing them, so that they can support the new direction.) Sometimes persuasion is not even necessary, as the input provided does not deviate from the direction or alignment established.

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

With the Consultative style, people could get the wrong expectations, as they might think that because you are asking for opinions, that means that they all will be implemented.   This could lead to disappointment, sabotage, and disengagement. So setting clear expectations, and managing them up front, is essential to be effective. In addition, the Persuasive style requires transparency up front. Otherwise, it could come across as disingenuous, leading to mistrust which in turn can lead to dysfunctional and ineffective team dynamics. In general, consistently setting clear expectations up front and being transparent is essential for these two styles to be effective.

  1. Does each one of these styles work better in a specific industry? If so, please write the industry next to the style.

Having worked in multiple industries, I have not had to change leadership styles. To be effective, what I have had to do is learn the ‘political landscape’ and know how to manage the power structure. Some industries are more knowledge based, while others are more relationship based. Those are the dynamics that I have had to be sensitive to, and have had to develop emotional intelligence around, in order to be effective and make meaningful contributions.

  1. Do you feel that one of these management styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

I personally feel that, though there are stereotypes attributed to women’s management styles, in essence it depends on the woman’s ability to be effective in her own style. It is all about being effective. But if I were to choose a style for women, based on stereotypes, I would say: democratic, laissez-faire, and persuasive.

Carla Dodds

Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America & Caribbean, Mastercard WorldWide. (Don’t miss a full interview with Carla Dodds on, How Women Can Succeed in Corporate America.) www.mastercard.com

Carla Dodds, Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America and Caribbean, Mastercard reveals her leadership style!

Carla Dodds, Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America and Caribbean, Mastercard reveals her leadership style!

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative.

  1. Why does this management style work for you

While I have chosen “consultative” as the one that most closely fits, the truth is that my “consultative” approach has a bit of “Democratic” and “Laissez-faire” to it as well. As a leader, it is important to take your place in “leading with a plan” or having a vision, as well as staying on course of such plan or vision. Yet it is equally important to listen closely to those you are managing and get their feedback for many reasons. The primary two reasons being:

  1. Leaders are not omniscient. While we may have a clear vision, feedback from individuals with diverse experiences and backgrounds can enrich the outcome of that vision. Whether it is changing or adding to the original vision, all feedback and elements contributed by the team are important to making a vision a reality. Feedback also allows the team to anticipate any potential barriers to be removed along the way and yields to my second point.
  2. Empowerment & Ownership. Upon receiving feedback and having a voice in the vision or outcome of such vision, team members feel empowered and a sense of ownership of what they are doing when they are a part of the creation process and have input into their journey.

    Shopping for management styles? Read on and discover how most successful female leaders elected theirs without compromising their feminine side!

    Management Styles
    Photo Credit: iospp.org

I don’t believe I have just one management style. As a leader it is important to have the flexibility to adjust your style to the audience you are leading. Some situations will require a more Autocratic while others Chaotic. In today’s working environment, flexibility and adaptability are key to advancement and success! My style is more one of “know your audience and their needs and adapt accordingly.”

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

I think that with any style, the main weakness is to be overly set in one given leadership style to the point you are seen as a rigid leader.

Leaders must be flexible and not fully committed to a specific style, rather focused on adapting their leadership styles to the circumstances. That will enable a leader to maximize performance across the organization at any given time. In the case of consultative leadership, a potential weakness could be the inability to strike a balance between making unilateral decisions across the board and allowing feedback to outweigh rationale.

  1. Do you feel that one of these styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

I think women can be well suited for any of these styles, given that women tend to be much more flexible and better listeners in general. It really depends more on the individual personalities of the women we are referring to, as no two women or people are created the same. The Autocratic, Consultative, Laissez-faire, and Persuasive require listening and teaching, which are two skillsets women tend to be recognized for (of course not all, just a majority.)   Chaotic and Democratic are styles that seem to be more passive leadership styles and may be more typical of passive cultures. Most of the women I know don’t wait around for others to make a decision, rather they are solution driven and work with a sense of urgency.

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Award-winning, best-selling author, corporate consultant and international speaker on career success and women empowerment. Frequent media contributor on CNN, Univision, Telemundo and others. Her latest book "Find Your Inner Red Shoes" is the backbone of the Red Shoe Movement.
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