South-Western - Management  
Management and the Mars-Venus Myth
Topic Leadership
Key Words Leadership, management styles, integrative management, productivity
News Story

According to the Mars-Venus philosophies made popular by writers in recent years, men and women naturally have vastly different approaches to communication. According to this theory, when men and women become managers, men are directive and results-oriented, while women are collaborative and relationship-oriented. Is there any truth to the theory? According to the author of this article, the Mars-Venus theory is just a myth but learning to identify and utilize communication styles usually attributed to gender can vastly strengthen leadership skills.

Men who do not use their innate ability to nurture are losing out on a valuable management tool and women who do not negotiate may miss out on profitable opportunities. Most people are not aware that the most effective types of leaders access both types of leadership skills.

Successful leaders utilize a variety of traits to help them to be successful. They use logic and intuition, technical competence and emotional integrity. Blending these styles is called an integrative management approach. Good integrated management focuses on getting the job done. Leaders who are effective must take the time to build strong teams, listen and inspire new ideas, while keeping employees informed. The ability to do these things naturally increases productivity.

While men and women are not necessarily the same or different in their approaches, both sexes can learn to engage leadership styles considered traditionally female or traditionally male to help them to get the productivity they need. A leader using an integrated approach combines a need to meet goals with the commitment to inclusive communication. This type of leader will be deadline-driven, but will make sure that the team is consistently honored and supported for their work, creating buy-in now and in the future.

Both men and women can benefit from examining their current leadership style to assess what style is more dominant for them: communication or deadline-driven strategies. Leaders can ask themselves:

  • Which gender -related management strengths do I need to work on to have a full suite of skills?
  • What will it take to integrate these skills into my management style?
  • How will my effectiveness as a manager improve through an integrated style?
  • Questions
    1.

    What is integrated management?

    2.

    The article talks about leadership styles in terms of what are typically considered masculine and feminine traits and comes to the conclusion that the best leaders use an integrated approach. Read about path-goal theory of leadership in your textbook. Of the four styles of leadership associated with this theory, which two are typically feminine styles and which two are typically masculine styles? Is this theory ultimately in accordance with the author's proposal of an integrative management style being the best for leaders? Why or why not?

    3.

    What tools are available to leaders who, after asking themselves the three questions in this article, find that they are deficient in certain management-related strengths? What steps can a leader take to improve their approach?

    4.

    In your opinion, is there any credence to the Mars-Venus styles at work theory? Be prepared to discuss your opinions in class.

    Source "Management and the Mars-Venus Myth," ; MWorld, Winter, 2006, pp. 38-41.
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