“If you were taking a new job and had your choice of a boss, would you prefer to work for a man or a woman?”
That was the question presented to American employees from Gallup in 1953. The majority of answers resoundingly favored men. In fact, 66 percent of respondents said they’d prefer a male boss while only 5 percent said they’d choose a female.
Now, 62 years later, it’s safe to say things have changed.
In the latest State of the American Manager report from Gallup, the same question was posed to the 2015 American workforce. Only 33 percent of respondents said they’d prefer a male boss and 20 percent preferred a female. The remaining 46 percent said it didn’t make a difference.
While there’s no doubt that a woman’s role in the workplace has expanded since 1953, what’s interesting to see is the impact they’re having on colleagues and other workers.
The study found that 33 percent of employees said they’re engaged at work when there’s a woman at the helm, compared to only 25 percent who said they’re more engaged with a male boss.
According to Glenn Llopis, entrepreneur and author, female leaders in the workplace haven’t been given the credit they deserve.
“The women leaders I’ve been around don’t stop pursuing until the job gets done,” writes Llopis for Forbes. “This is why I believe they are good collaborative leaders — not afraid of trial and error as long as they continue to build the resource infrastructure around them that gets them closer towards accomplishing their goals.”
So how do female bosses command high employee engagement?
According to Jim Collison, president of Employers of America, it’s about the difference between the male and female leadership styles.
“Men in leadership positions tend to be more dominant in the command-and-order, the “dictator” style,” writes Collison. “The traditional male idea of leadership is the coach who calls the plays.”
While males exhibit more of a command and control behavior style, women tend to be more centered on the ideas of team building and communicating.
“Women in leadership positions tend to be more dominant in the friendly, social styles,” continues Collison. “The traditional female idea of leadership is the coach who suggests plays to the team and listens to input from the players.”
Similarly, the Gallup study found that employees with a female manager were 1.17 times more likely to receive praise or recognition for a job well done within the past week than were employees working for a male.
Herb Greenberg, CEO of Caliper, a consulting organization that helps clients make informed hiring decisions, says strong interpersonal skills and an ability to be empathetic makes women good leaders in the workplace.“These qualities combine to create a leadership style that is inclusive, open, consensus building, collaborative and collegial,” he said.