Gender and Diversity Roles in Leadership

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 5
Words: 1441
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD

Concerning human beings, diversity refers to the physical and behavioral variation that defines their personality. A myriad of characteristics defines each person’s particular and unique personality. Gender, emotional stability, level of intelligence, and physical appearance are some of the factors that determine the personality of an individual (Judge, 2009).

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A leader’s opinions and will command respect among the members of a particular group. A similar theory works for human beings where leaders possess qualities that lack in others. Personality traits such as charisma, courage, and oratory skill make some individuals acceptable to people as leaders in a general sense (Judge, 2009).

Gender still plays a significant role in the automatic selection of a leader by any collection of people of different backgrounds and orientations (Lord, 2000). In a society affected by male chauvinism, people may refuse a woman leader even if she possesses all qualities of a leader. In such an environment, the society’s perception of the female is that of an errant member. In other societies, a leader is acceptable regardless of gender. It is difficult to establish whether the dominance of the male gender in leadership is because of discrimination or whether it results from the possession of some qualities that define a leader (Keller, 2009).

Minority groups also suffer discrimination in the selection of leaders. It is difficult for an individual of a minority ethnicity or culture to rise to a position of authority in an organization. This is because of fear by the majority of domination by an individual they consider an outsider. The lack of diversity in a society or organization contributes to the discrimination of the minority as leaders. Some societies and majority groups in an organization or a political institution regard placing a person of minority descent in a powerful position as a sellout. The lack of familiarity of the majority group with the minority contributes to society’s prejudice towards the minority group (Judge, 2009). A leader emanates from society in the sense that it chooses the leader depending on the popularity of his or her character traits.

The ideal character and physique of a leader differ in different cultures. A leader must have the ability to deliver concerning his or her duties in tandem with the expectations of the culture of the majority. In a culturally multidimensional society, a leader must be capable of expressing sensitivity to the expectations of each of the present cultural orientations in the community. The rigidity of an individual and failure to deviate from strong cultural beliefs may lead to the rejection of the particular person as a leader.

Personality and diversity play a major role in determining whether a person is acceptable as a leader in any aspect and the performance of the leader in handling various issues. Personality may make an individual have a high affinity of followers so that this person becomes a leader. On the contrary, to the common perspective, a leader’s popularity or the possession of the personality that makes a person desirable as a leader resulting in a similar performance in handling leadership responsibilities is not true. Some people, who do not seem to be potential leaders, have a capability of delivering objective achievements when in the position of leadership, while other people cannot handle leadership responsibilities despite seemingly appearing to be potential leaders (lord, 2000).

Women are disadvantaged more by personality rather than their ability in the quest for leadership positions. In any contest, an average woman of an average temperament will fair less well as compared to a man of the same level of temperament and practical ability when expressing their capability to lead. In this regard, most people will accept the man as a leader. This is because the man’s personality favors him as a leader in a society with little diversity (Rahim2011).

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Another leadership characteristic that quantifies the role of diversity in leadership is developmental experiences. Most of these experiences are because of childhood events and nurturing by guardians. The parent is the first and the most influential leader to a child. The parent provides the first picture and model of the child’s role in society later in life. Consequently, the child picks out the parent’s characteristics that seem successful. This results in the suppression of diversity.

To become a leader, diversity is required in relation to leadership characteristics. One must exhibit a large variety of these traits, which together form the basis upon which the members of a certain group, community, or organization accept an individual as their leader. This is due to the lack of adequate perspective diversity in the community. Being a leader is primarily the perception of other people regarding the capability of the individual to lead rather than the position given to the person by a higher authority. The subjects of leadership thus bestow the leadership responsibility on an individual. The diversity of people or a population enables them to accept a different variety of leaders regardless of other considerations (Ngunjiri, 2009).

The traditional role of women in society predisposes them to prejudice regarding their ability to become good leaders. Due to the perception of many individuals, women miss the chance and priority of becoming leaders. Most people bestowed with the responsibility of elevating individuals to positions of authority do not consider women as eligible for leadership positions owing to the nature of their discriminative cultures.

The lack of motivation makes women lag behind in expressing interests in positions of leadership. When an individual fails to express in leadership, followers interpret this as a lack of confidence and cease to support that particular individual. Diversity is critical in a society or organization for a non-charismatic individual to become a leader. In a diverse culture, there are many acceptable ranges of characters concerning leadership. In these cultures, women are more likely to become accepted as leaders. In this regard, a certain degree of flexibility exists among the people of that particular society (Mendenhall, 2007).

Women suffer because their leadership style emphasizes fairness and ethical consideration in the quest for making gain. On the other hand, men exhibit a characteristic of focus and aggressiveness towards the goals of the subjects or the organization in which they have leadership responsibilities. In today’s world of competition, organizations favor aggressiveness and the need to achieve the end results regardless of the means employed. This factor favors men in the selection of a leader for an organization regardless of their effectiveness. Another factor that affects women’s progress as leaders are education and knowledge. On average, women are less educated compared to men. This deficit disadvantages women, as they are not knowledgeable enough to compete for leadership positions (Whitman, 2009).

Some measures can facilitate the acceptance of women as leaders. The education of people is essential in eliminating stereotyping, which is the main cause of most of the discrimination against women as leaders (Whitman, 2009). The stereotypes assume that women are not motivated enough to focus all their efforts towards the achievement of organizational goals. Diversity may influence equality on the platform of seeking approval from society as a potential leader in two ways. Either the society should be liberal enough to accept the multicultural differences within individuals, or the leader should style up in a manner that the culturally multifaceted society regards him or her as the ideal leader (Keller, 2009).

In another perspective, being a member of the minority group in an organization may provide a neutral standpoint. A society may install a member of a minority community as a leader due to the neutralism that is associated with the affiliation to groups other than the major cultural orientation. The people of a certain community or culture will prefer a leader from the minority group rather than a leader from another directly antagonistic culture (Judge et al, 2009). The minority can capitalize on this property of a neutral population within a society with other groups that form the majority. This is the advantage of belonging to a minority group where the real struggle is between other cultures of the majority (Lord, 2000).

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A measure that can help women and minority societies get into leadership positions is the use of the assessment of suitable candidates for performance. When the commitment to work is the major factor affecting the promotion of people in an organization, then it becomes difficult for the women workers to advance. Here neglecting the family for the sake of the work in order to achieve organizational goals is the most rewarded characteristic. The overall observation is that the lag experienced by women in ascending into corporate leadership is perception and ideology rather than facts (Mohamed, 2008).


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Keller, T. (2009). Individual Differences and Implicit leadership Theories. Images Of The Familiar: 415.

Lord, R. (2000). Extending the Cognitive Revolution In Leadership Research. Thinking Outside The Box by Looking Inside the Box, 11, 5-10.

Mendenhall, M. E. (2007). Global leadership: research, practice, development. London: Routledge.

Mohamed, A. (2008). Issues Infuencing The Entry Of Women Into Manegerial Positions. Women Into Management, 1(1), 4-8.

Ngunjiri, F. (2009). Need for Emotional and Cultural Intelligence. Global Business Leadership, 4-7.

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Rahim, M. A. (2011). Diversity, conflict, and leadership. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Whitman, D. S. (2009). Emotional Intelligence and leadership kin organisations. Miami: Florida International University.