When it comes to style, the majority of employees like the way women lead over men, new research finds.
The clear majority of Americans prefer executives who use newer, more collaborative leadership styles, such as listening, consulting and asking questions, the study by financial business solutions provider Pershing discovered. The research shows that 7 in 10 Americans associate these leadership styles with women. By contrast, 77 percent of those surveyed attribute "traditional" leadership approaches, such as giving orders and employing the reward/punishment model, with men.
"It's clear that women are contributing exciting new approaches to management and leadership," said Kim Dellarocca, global head of practice management and segment marketing at Pershing. "However the research shows that a gap still exists between the acceptance of management style and the actual preferences in leadership choices." [5 Ways to Be a Better Leader]
While women make up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. work force, the research shows men still vastly outnumber women in key leadership roles despite the preference for management styles that people more strongly associate with women.
Additionally, this trend continues despite the fact that women are outpacing men in earning college degrees and a greater percentage of women are becoming the primary income earner in the household.
The study uncovered a correlation between age and attitudes toward women at work. While conventional wisdom says that young people are more open to new ideas, the results reveal that the older the individual, the greater the comfort with seeing women in leadership positions.
Researchers said this pattern could be a result of real-life experiences in working with women in various occupations that have helped break down traditional stereotypes.
"Good role models are the key to solving the gender paradox," Dellarocca said. "If exposure to individuals who defy stereotypes helps mitigate biases, then this could be a promising strategy for winning greater acceptance of women in traditionally male leadership roles."
The study was based on surveys of 2,046 adults over age 18, with 889 of them employed full time.
Originally published on Business News Daily.