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Women In Leadership 1

Women in Leadership: The Evolution of Corporate Culture

Stacey Crawford
Royal Roads University
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The global complexity and speed of organizational change is like a riptide that is

challenging traditional norms, values and beliefs, as the emergence of a new

generation(s) into the workforce influences organizational culture. In a way quite

different from their predecessors, hierarchical managers and their traditional structures

and functions are being challenged, particularly through the emergence of women in

prominent positions of organizational control.

From the perspective of organizations today, these influences are more discernible

and particularly important. Previous generations held to the view that at the heart of the

old company culture was an exchange of obedience and diligence for job security. As

The Baby Boomers and Generation X grew up and entered the workforce, they witnessed

the vulnerability of authority as they challenged managers to demonstrate leadership; a

skill that requires vision and the creation of shared purpose, not the traditionally male

context of planning, budgeting and problem solving on a daily basis.

These are significant generation changes that require leadership to be flexible, less

command oriented, and willing to help their employees achieve personal growth and

success. If the organization chooses to stick to the old regime of bureaucratic control and

command management, they are likely to find themselves swept to sea by the riptide of

change, churning under them in a wave of new workplace expectations. Some believe

that these expectations can be met through an approach that involves a feminine style of

leadership. A style “focused on relationship and on meeting the needs of others”

(O’Brien, 1996, p. 6).

Virginia O’Brien (1996) references masculine and feminine traits to the different

styles of management and leadership skills employed by men and women in those
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positions. For instance, masculine traits in these positions tend to gravitate towards a

more goal-oriented philosophy focusing on planning and strategy, formal structure, and

control of employees (O’Brien, 1996).

Feminine traits in management and leadership positions tend to emphasize

corporate purpose, management process, and the development of the capabilities and

skills of the people who work for them. These traits are more focused on the development

of long-term relationships and meeting the needs of others; guiding, leading, teaching,

decision making and having supreme organizational skills, in addition to the ability of

being able to handle conflict between valued customers.

In all, the feminine traits described by Virginia O’Brien (1996) are better suited to

the typically multi-faceted leadership and management requirements facing a changing

business world.
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O’Brien, V. (1996). The fast forward MBA in business: Tough ideas made easy. New

York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.