Leadership and Culture

by Carol Vallone Mitchell

Do women leaders have to demonstrate different behavioral competencies than their male counterparts in order to be successful? I asked myself that question over 10 years ago when I was working on my doctoral thesis. The short answer is yes.

Consider the differences in traditional, stereotypic gender roles. Women, more than men, are thought to be warm, expressive and sympathetic to others. Men, more than women, are thought to be aggressive, competitive, and independent.  If a leader is acting inconsistently with those expectations people can become uncomfortable interacting with that leader.

Successful executive level women therefore continue to be tuned in to what the environment expects from them and operate in ways that are consistent with their gender role expectations. The research continues to bear this out.

But there is another circumstantial factor to consider, one that can be difficult to figure out: culture. The culture of an organization creates an environment where some people are prized and others overlooked.

What happens, then, if the expectation of your organizational culture is not congruent with gender stereotype? This is just one example of how the culture of an organization impacts leadership and vice versa.

How do you define culture? What culture is most supportive of your business strategy? How do you know if your leadership style matches the culture of your organization, or your part of the organization? I will address these questions – and more that come up in discussion – in a monthly posting here on the blog of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

About Talent Strategy Partners LLC

Talent Strategy Partners is a management consulting company that specializes in Creating Deliberate CulturesTM collaborating with its clients to strategically align their organizations and understand, through research-based models, the competencies necessary for peak performance. Ms. Mitchell is a recognized expert in the field of competency modeling.


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