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LEADERSHIP STYLES OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN THE 1990S: A HEURISTIC ANALYSIS

Jane H. Stanford, Texas A&M University-Kingsville Barbara R. Oates, Texas A&M University-Kingsville Delfina Flores, Texas A&M University-Kingsville ABSTRACT Do women have different leadership styles than men? With the current and projected impact that women-led business is having on the U.S. economy, this question is a significant one. Surprisingly, however, there is an apparent dearth of empiricism delving into the leadership-gender debate--most contemporary literature is conceptual. Therefore, the goal of the present study is to initiate scientific inquiry of this topic. An exploratory investigation of a sampling of women entrepreneurs was conducted to examine their leadership styles. From this preliminary analysis utilizing a qualitative research methodology, a heuristic model of female leadership was developed. INTRODUCTION The statistics are startling: In 1992, women-owned businesses were projected to surpass the Fortune 500 in numbers of people employed [1]; women are starting new businesses at two to five times the rate of men [15]; in fact, women-owned business is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy--a current Small Business Administration (SBA) count tallied approximately 5 million women-owned businesses and predicts women will own nearly 40 percent of small businesses by 2000 [1]; in the next decade, fully two-thirds of new entrants into the work force will be women [22]; [29]; and, finally, the number of women in upper- level management has increased and is projected to increase well past the year 2000 [20]; [24]. Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger says "women will become Fortune 500 CEOs in large numbers around 2010" [1]. With this dramatic upsurge of women into the work place and into positions of leadership, a debate has ensued that questions whether women have the same leadership styles as men. Earlier thinking on the subject typically perceived women, who had achieved leadership status, as being successful imitators of characteristics generally believed to lie solely within the male domain, such as toughness and aggressiveness [13]; [14]; [25]; [26]. According to Cantor and Bernay (1992), it was even common two decades ago for corporate women to dress more like men in their efforts to emulate the masculine model of leadership. These authors cite the "... severe blue suit, white blouse, and floppy necktie of the 'dress for success' crowd" as examples of this assumed penchant for masculine traits (p. 37). Much of the contemporary thought, however, conceptualizes a feminine style of leadership that is uniquely different from its male counterpart [1]; [4]; [9]; [14]; [19]; [25]; [26]; [29]. Some theorists, such as Helgesen (1990), suggest certain feminine characteristics give the woman leader an advantage.

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Characteristics described as essentially feminine are: heightened communication skills (i.e., especially the ability to be a good listener and to be empathetic); advanced intermediary skills (i.e., for negotiating and conflict resolution); well-developed interpersonal skills [4]; and a "soft" approach to handling people, among others. Johnson (1992) also labels nurturance, gentleness, and empathy as being stereotypically feminine. Some theorists also attribute to women leaders the unique ability to easily create a strong esprit de corps. Thus, these same theorists assert that women are ideally suited to the non- bureaucratic, employee-involved organizations of the Nineties,... where teamwork and a free flow of information are paramount" [9]. Helgesen (1990) suggests that women leaders possess a greater capability to prioritize than their male counterparts. She believes this trait stems from managing households and raising children, while, at the same time, juggling careers. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM An argument has evolved over the last few decades that queries whether women manage or lead differently than men do. Proponents of the women do lead differently theory postulate that women inherently possess or develop certain traits that diverge sharply from male leadership characteristics. For example, Johnson (1976) developed a theory that women are stereotypically perceived as operating from personal, helplessness, and indirect power bases, while men are viewed as using "strong aggressive types of power" (p. 107). The opposing argument, even though a significantly smaller voice than the previous position, perceives little or no gender differences in leadership styles. In this perspective, any disparities among male and female leaders are usually attributed to home and family responsibilities, rather than gender differences. Neither are glass ceiling phenomena or barriers part of this model. A third position on this issue dismisses the difference in leadership-style debate as being inconsequential. What is important, from this perspective, is the end result; i.e., it does not make any difference how you lead as long as your leadership style is an effective one [9]. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM Because women are significantly impacting the nation's economy and forecasts indicate that this trend will continue an upward movement well into the 21st century, the leadership-gender issue has become a significant one. Edification is needed so that women will have a firm foundation on which to build and develop their leadership skills. An example in support of this position is a quote from the 1988 Omnibus Women's Business Ownership Bill (H.R. 5050): "If we are to maintain this nation's world competitiveness, we must ensure that women business owners, the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurial ownership, are prepared to conquer the economic challenges of the 90's decisively" [21].

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SCOPE OF THE STUDY A recent newspaper article featured a group of women who represented the majority of entrepreneurs and managers in a popular shopping center in a large metropolitan area [11]. The columnist noted that these female merchants credited their success, not to gender, but to their ability to fulfill the needs of their customers. Due to the absence of gender-related references in these women's discussions, the researchers believed it would be possible to obtain an unbiased description of these women's personal leadership traits. Consequently, this sample of 12 women business leaders (i.e., 10 entrepreneurs and 2 managers) was selected for study. Once the sample parameters were defined, the researchers delineated the scope of the research goals and objectives. It was concluded that the primary goal was to build a heuristic model of female leadership. Objectives were: (1) to thoroughly investigate the leadership styles existing among the sample through personal interviews; (2) to perform a content analysis that would ferret out the underlying "themes" in the protocols; and (3) to compare these themes to the prevailing, and often classic, theories of leadership. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY The primary limitations of the study were possible threats to internal validity through (1) size of the sample, (2) lack of randomization, and (3) possible interviewer bias. However, the researchers believed these potential threats were largely negated by the richness of the data that was collected through the qualitative methodology of the study. For example, one personal interview lasted almost 45 minutes; this extended time frame provided the researchers an opportunity to gain an in-depth look into the leadership style of a highly successful female entrepreneur. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK A review of the contemporary literature led the researchers to two fundamental theoretical underpinnings for the present study: (1) leadership as influence or power, and (2) classic leadership theory. The power theory is used as one of the primary differences between male and female styles among many of those who support the gender-difference viewpoint; i.e., men leaders have been conceptualized as operating from power bases, referred to by French and Raven (1960) as "position" and "coercive," while it has been postulated that women will typically avoid these types of power bases and, instead, choose a more personal, indirect type [4]; [13]; [16]. For example, Rosener (1990) believes that women are much more likely than men to use power based on charisma, work record, and contacts as opposed to organizational position power. Several models of leadership have been inferentially used in the contemporary literature. In describing women's leadership styles, the majority of the authors describe an employee- involved, participative management style leader. Therefore, the leadership framework used for this study included several of the classes of theory, such as Personal-Behavior theory [3]; [18]; [28]; Trait theory [2]; and Contingency theory [8]; [15].

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Power Bases of Leadership French and Raven's (1960) frequently cited model of leadership power hypothesizes that leadership is a process whereby one individual exerts influence or power over another. This model proposes five bases of power; they are as follows: (1) Coercive power - if an employee complied, he or she would do so out of fear. (2) Reward power - the opposite of coercive. In this situation, if an employee complied, he or she would believe that positive rewards rather than punishment would ensue. (3) Legitimate power - this power results from the leader's legitimate position in the organization. (4) Expert power - certain expertise, special skills, or knowledge can build a power base for an individual within an organization, regardless of whether they have position power. (5) Referent power - this stems from how much followers identify with a leader; i.e., if the leader is perceived as "attractive" or as possessing key resources, then he or she can acquire referent power, according to the French and Raven (1960) model. Leadership Theories There are three primary classifications of leadership theories. The first are the Personal-Behavior (P-B) theories 161. Within this category, leaders may best be classified by personal qualities or behavioral patterns (styles). P-B theories focus on what the leader does in carrying out the managerial job. Of these theories,no specific style is universally accepted. The second classification or "Trait" theories postulate that some individuals inherently possess certain traits or characteristics that have the potential to make them effective leaders. In the early part of the century, trait theories were popular means of explaining the behavior of leaders. During this period, many universities offered leadership training based on the identification of certain key traits that were to be emulated for effective leadership. However, these courses were often not successful, and thus, trait theories waned in popularity because the general thinking was that there were obviously many unexplained variables in the leadership equation. Recently, though, Warren Bennis (1984) has revived trait theory. The third classification encompasses contingency theories. In essence, these theories hypothesize that the situation is the main determinant of what constitutes an effective leader; i.e., most of these theories do not view leadership styles, traits, or characteristics as pivotal factors in leadership. Personal-Behavior Theories (P-B). Three well-known leadership models can be classified as PersonalBehavior theories. The first P-B theory discussed is Tannenbaum and Schmidt's (1973) "boss-centered versus subordinate-centered continuum," followed by Likert's (1961) participative paradigm. The last to be discussed in this particular category is Blake and Mouton's (1964) Managerial Grid. Tannenbaum and Schmidt's (1973) Continuum: These theorists believe that leadership actions are related to the degree of authority used by a leader and the amount of freedom available to the

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subordinate in reaching a decision. Thus, on a continuum, Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1973) have placed "boss-centered leader" on one end and subordinate-centered" on the other. Likert's (1961) Participative Model: Rensis Likert and a group of researchers at the University of Michigan viewed leadership much in the same manner as Tannenbaum and Schmidt with "jobcentered" leaders being the opposite of "employee-centered." Later, after additional research, Likert refined this model and hypothesized a "System Four" leadership theory that ranged from autocratic (System 1), to somewhat authoritative (System 2) to participative (System 3) to highly participative (System 4). This latter system is the one Likert advocated and the one most congruent with contemporary employee involvement (EI) theory. Blake and Mouton's (1964) Managerial Grid Theory: This theory, conceptualized as a grid, envisions five personal behaviors or styles of leaders. The 9,9 leader is equivalent to the participative or EI model of leadership; i.e., the 9,9 leader is a team leader who facilitates production and morale by coordinating and integrating work related activities. The five styles in this model measure a person's values, opinions, and feelings. Trait Theory of Leadership. The second categorization is trait theory. Warren Bennis's (1984) model stands out as being the most contemporary. Bennis's (1984) Model: From a study of 90 outstanding leaders and their subordinates, Bennis identified four common traits or competencies that leaders in the 1990s must possess and/or develop: (1) Management of attention - this is the ability to communicate a sense of outcome, goal, or direction that influence followers. (2) Management of meaning- the ability to create and communicate meaning with clarity and understanding. (3) Management of trust - the ability to be reliable and consistent. (4) Management of self - the ability to understand and to effectively use their strengths. Contingency Theories of Leadership. The last leadership theories to be discussed are those of the contingency theorists. Fiedler's (1967) and House's (1971) theories best exemplify this categorization. Fiedler's (1967) Theory: He says there are three important situational dimensions assumed to influence a leader's effectiveness: (1) Leader-Member relations - the degree of confidence the subordinate has in the leader. (2) Task structure - the degree to which the followers' jobs are routine. (3) Position powerthe power inherent in the leadership position. Fiedler developed the Least Preferred Co- Worker (LPC) scale to measure leadership style through an evaluation of leaders' responses; e.g., leaders who rate their LPCs in positive terms are assumed to be people-oriented and supportive. Those leaders who give low LPC ratings are more task oriented, according to Fiedler. House's (1971) Path-Goal Theory: This model proposes that a leader is the key individual in bringing about improved subordinate motivation, satisfactions, and performance. The theory suggest that four leadership styles are typically used: (1) Directive or a non-participative style. (2) Supportive - leader is friendly and people oriented. (3) Participative - the leader asks for, receives, and uses suggestions from employees. (4) Achievement oriented - the leader sets challenging goals for employees and then

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demonstrates confidence in their achieving the goal. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Ethnography (or ethnomethodology) is a strategy for studying the common sense features of everyday situations--the common, ordinary happenings in a particular setting of interest. In these studies, social interaction as an ongoing process is scrutinized and recorded in descriptive detail [27]. In this particular study the personal interview was combined with content analysis. Research Design - Case Study The small-selected-sample or case study method is a research design strategy under the qualitative rubric. The underlying philosophical assumption of this method is to reveal the meaning of phenomena for the participants. According to Stake (1981), who prefers this method because of its "epistemological similarity to a reader's experience," the "case study" can be described as follows: ... case study knowledge is likely to be experiential knowledge rather than formalistic knowledge. A reader of case studies adds to the remembrances of "being there" as much as to the repository of statements about what "is" there. Those deposits in memory are different, I believe, in four ways. Case study knowledge is (1) more concrete, (2) more contextual, (3) more developed by reader interpretation, and (4) based more on reference populations rather than being defined by the reader's previous experience [27]. Procedures for Collection of the Data - On-Site, Personal Interviews A partially-structured, open-ended questionnaire was developed that encouraged discussion of the various items on the scale. Once the questionnaire was developed, the women entrepreneurs and managers were contacted by telephone to establish their participation in the project and to schedule interview times. When the participants were interviewed, a conscientious effort was made by the researchers not to lead the discussion but, instead, to encourage original responses. Notes were taken, but unobtrusively so, because each participant fully agreed to a request to tape record their dialogue. Methods for Analysis of the Data - Content Analysis After the data was collected, the dialogue was transcribed into a written format for the purpose of analysis. At this point a decision was made by the researchers to both computerize the data in order to utilize the qualitative software package (The Ethnograph, 1988) and, also, to manually analyze each protocol. Before the actual analysis could begin, however, it was necessary to establish the exact parameters of the content analysis. Definition and Categorization of Universe (U). The universe of content analyzed in this study were all the replies to the interviewer's questions from women entrepreneurs about their leadership characteristics. Categorization of this universe, according to Kounin and Gump's U[17], were adjective descriptors or variables such as the ability to prioritize, to view problems from a holistic perspective, to mediate, etc. An additional variable was the self-placement on a continuum between an

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autocratic leadership style and a participative one. Units of Analysis. In the content analysis, units of analysis were: (1) words and (2) themes. Words, such as mediator, communicator, and other descriptive leadership adjectives, were counted and assigned to specific categories. These categories later comprised the female leadership traits or characteristics under study. Themes were derived from sentence statements about self in the context of leadership and categorized. Quantification of the Content Analysis. Numbers were assigned to the objects of the content analysis U through (1) counting, (2) ranking, and (3) rating. For example, the units of analysis (i.e., words, themes, and items) were nominally measured by counting units in each category to determine reoccurring and, thus, more predominant leadership characteristics. An ordinal measurement was then conducted and reoccurring analyses objects were ranked to determine any order of significance that might exist and the level of that significance. Lastly, higher-ranked objects were rated by crosstabulating ranked significance levels with the degree of importance attributed to each object by the women entrepreneurs in the study. FINDINGS The results of the content analysis largely supported the popular literature perception of women leaders -- words such as "team- based," "involved," "participation," and "encourage" were the most frequently reoccurring. Thus, the primary theme woven throughout the interview protocols was one of participation or employee involvement. Statements from some of the study's participants described their relationships with their employees as ones built on mutual trust and respect. One entrepreneur said she tried to give her employees the freedom to use their heads the same way she had the freedom to use her own. Another said that all employees participate in decision making. Yet another described this same phenomenon by stating: "all decisions are made as 'partners,' together." A fourth stated that "management participates in all of the duties of the store and employees participate in the decision making." Therefore, a second theme that appeared was one that valued autonomy and independence, for both leader and employee. The findings in this study were also congruent with the literature's theories on female power bases; i.e., none of the women referenced their own position in the organization as a platform for influence nor indicated that they used coercive power. As previously discussed, the analyzed protocols showed that these women operated from personal bases of influence. Consequently, it could be feasibly surmised, based on French and Raven's (1960) model that referent or expert power bases were operative among the women leaders in the present study. Another theme that appeared was that of a long-range view of the future and the encouragement of employees to share that vision. Some protocol statements were: "in this organization, we have the I want to grow together attitude" and "my employees and I share the same goals for the future." Thus, the visionary characteristics so frequently attributed to the entrepreneur was present among this group of women. This was harmonious with much of the contemporary literature, especially Helgesen's (1990) concept of the female leader who is able "to see the big picture."

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A HEURISTIC MODEL OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP The results of the content analysis led to the development of a heuristic model of female leadership. This model characterizes a 1990s woman entrepreneur as one who possesses a high degree of employee involvement that typically results in a team based management approach. Additionally, this woman has entrepreneurial vision, which she is able to effectively communicate to her employees; this in turn serves as an extraordinary motivating force to achieve the organization's mission. Lastly, this female leader values autonomy and independence, both for herself and for her employees. FUTURE RESEARCH The goal of this preliminary investigation of women's leadership styles was to initiate future research. The next research objective will be to select a larger sample covering several metropolitan areas. Obviously, the personal interview would no longer be a viable option, so an open-ended mail questionnaire will be developed based on the exploratory one used in the present study. Even though content analysis requires a significant investment of time from the researchers, it will be utilized again in the second research effort because of the richness of the data that can be obtained from this methodology. The goal of this second project will be to thoroughly test the heuristic model developed in the present, exploratory project. Lastly, an ambitious research effort is planned to develop a male model of leadership for a comparative analysis with the fully developed female prototype. This latter analysis will seek to determine: (1) if gender differences in leadership styles do exist, and (2), if differences exist, precisely what they are, if they are constant or conditional, and their effect, if any, on the organization. REFERENCES [1] Aburdene, P. & Naisbitt, J. (1992). Megatrends for women. New York: Villard Books. [2] Bennis, W. (1984, August). The four competencies of leadership. Training and Development Journal, 15-19. [3] Blake, R. R. & Mouton, J. S. (1964). The managerial grid. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing. [4] Cantor, D. W. & Bernay, T. (1992). Women in power - The secrets ofleadership. Boston, MA: Houghton Company. [5] Capowski, G. S. (1992, March). Be our own boss? Millions of women get down to business. Management Review, pp. 24-30. [6] Donnelly, J. H., Jr., Gibson, J. L. & Ivancevich, J. M. (1992). Fundamentals of management (8th ed.). Homewood, IL: Irwin. [7] The ethnograph [Qualitative software package], (1988). Littleton, CO: Qualis Research Associates. [8] Fiedler, F. (1967). A theory of leadership effectiveness. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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[9] Fierman, J. (1990, December 17). Do women manage differently? Fortune, pp. 115-118. [10] French, R. P. & Raven, B. (1960). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright & A. F. Zander (Eds.), Group dynamics (2nd ed), (pp. 607-23). Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson. [11] George, R. (1993, August 5). Women in majority. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, pp. B5-B6. [12] Harrison, P. (Ed). (1986). America's new women entrepreneurs - Tips, tactics, & techniques of women achievers in business. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books Ltd. [13] Heim, P. (1992). Hardball for women - Winning at the game of business. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House. [14] Helgesen, S. (1990). The female advantage - Women's ways of leadership. New York: Doubleday. [15] House, R. J. (1971, September). A path-goal theory of leadership effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 321-328. [16] Johnson, P. (1976). Women and power: Toward a theory of effectiveness. Journal of Social Issues, 32(3), 99- 1 10. [17] Kerlinger, F. N. (1973). Foundations of behavioral research (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. [18] Likert, R. (1961). New patterns of management. New York: McGraw-Hill. [19] Loden, M. (1985). Feminine leadership or how to succeed in business without being one of the boys. New York: Times Books. [20] McFarland, L. J., Senn, L. E. & Childress, J. R. (1993). 21st leadership Dialogues with 100 top leaders. New York: The Leadership Press. [21] The national foundation for women business owners. (1993). [Pamphlet]., 1377 K Street, N.W., Suite 637, Washington, D.C. 20005. [22] Nelton, S. (1990, August). Making an impact on the workplace. Nation's Business, 78, p. 32. [23] Peters, T. (1993, September). Thriving in chaos. Working Woman, pp. 42-45, 100-102, 108. [24] Povich, L. (1993, September). The working woman's revolution - stage two. Working Woman, p. 41. [25] Rosener, J. B. (1990, November-December). Ways women lead. Harvard Business Review, pp. 119-125.

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[26] Rudolph, B. (1990, Fall). Why cant a woman manage more like ... a woman. Time p. 53. [27] Schumacker, R. E. (Ed). (1990). Qualitative research methods [Parts I and II of class notes]. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press. [28] Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W. H. (1973, May-June). How to choose a leadership pattern. Harvard Business Review, pp. 162-180. [29] White, J. (1992). A few good women - Breaking the barriers to top management. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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