The notion of 'think manager-think male' has been demonstrated in many studies. The current study examines whether leaders are perceived as more effective when they have 'feminine', 'masculine' or 'androgynous' characteristics, and how this relates to the leader's and followers' sex. Using carefully matched samples of 930 employees of 76 bank managers, we studied the relationship between managers' gender-role identity (perceived 'femininity', 'masculinity' and 'androgyny') and how this relates to leadership effectiveness in terms of transformational leadership and personal identification with the leader. Our findings show that among both male and female leaders, 'androgyny' was more strongly related to transformational leadership and followers' identification than 'non-androgyny', and that leaders' 'femininity' was more strongly related to leadership effectiveness than 'masculinity'. Furthermore, the results show that women paid a higher penalty for not being perceived as 'androgynous' (mixing 'femininity' and 'masculinity'), in comparison to men with regard to personal identification. When examining same- versus cross-sex relationships, we found that 'non-androgynous' male managers were rated higher by their male employees than by their female employees. Our findings suggest that women and men who are interested in being perceived as effective leaders may be well advised to blend 'feminine' and 'masculine' behaviors, and even more so when they are in situations of non-congruency (i.e., women in leadership roles and leading in cross-sex relationships). We discuss the implications of these findings for both theory and practice.
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We thank the study participants and the bank management for their cooperation. We are grateful to Anat Harari, Merav Shalit and Maya Horovitz for their assistance with data collection and to Asaf Levanon, Ella Miron-Spector and Dana Vashdi for their statistical advice. We are thankful to Alice Eagly, the anonymous LQ reviewers and the Editor for their helpful feedback. We also thank the Israel Foundation Trustees for their financial support.
- Gender-role identity
- Personal identification
- Transformational leadership