Women May Be Better Leaders Then Men in Crises Where Outcomes Are Predictable

A new study by researchers at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland has found that women leaders with strong interpersonal skills are more adept at solving organizational crises than men, but only under certain conditions.

Corinne Post, a professor of management at Lehigh University and the lead author of the study, states that “when a crisis hits an organization, people trust leaders who behave in relational ways, and especially so when the leaders are women and when there is a predictable path out of the crisis.”

The authors note that “crises are fraught with relational issues, which, unless handled properly, threaten not only organizational performance but also the allocation of organizational resources and even organizational survival. Organizational crises, therefore, require a great deal of relational and emotional work to build or restore trust among those affected.”

Professor Post added that “we found that this female leadership trust advantage was not just attitudinal, but that — when the consequences of the crisis were foreseeable — people were actually ready to invest much more in the firms led by relational women. Our finding also suggests that, in an organizational crisis, female (relative to male) leaders may generate more goodwill and resources for their organization by using relational behaviors when the crisis fallout is predictable, but may not benefit from the same advantage in crises with uncertain consequences.”

Dr. Post is a graduate of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The full study, “A Female Leadership Trust Advantage in Times of Crisis: Under What Conditions?” was published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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