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Discussion – Communication Styles

Discussion – Communication Styles

The supposedly significant communication style difference between women and men in leadership is that women tend to use relation-oriented communication while men use task-oriented communication. Relation-oriented communication means communication is more about building relationships, which is how tasks get accomplished. On the other hand, men are task-oriented, which means that they do not prioritize relationships and instead go straight into the task with an employee or colleagues. Another difference is that by being relationship-oriented, women lead by consensus in decision-making, while men, being task-oriented, tend to be hierarchical, and only those close to their position get involved in the decision-making processes.

However, based on the studies done for this module, these differences that studies tend to highlight are, in fact, inaccurate. Schlamp et al. (2021) conducted a study that found no difference in how women and men communicate (p. 13). They found that there is no such thing as women being more relation-oriented while men are task-oriented. This result challenges the popular belief that both genders have differing communication styles. The conclusion that why so many previous studies have come up with this result is because of individual biases.

Based on this finding, it is safe to conclude that these differences have no impact on the performance of men and women leaders since there are no real differences to begin with. This is supported by a study by Timko (2017), who found that men and women are both equally effective leaders (p. 1). As such, the low number of women leaders or any low-performing woman leader is not attributable to their communication style but rather to other challenges that women in leadership face. These challenges are mostly rooted in patriarchy, for example, discrimination, stereotyping and the struggle to achieve a life-work balance (Akanji et al., 2020, p. 1000; Folke et al., 2020, p. 181; Vinkenburg et al., 2011, p. 14). Therefore, the challenges that women in leadership face do not necessarily result from their different approaches to matters as has been purported; rather, these challenges arise due to the patriarchal system in society, where there are, among other things, conscious and unconscious biases.


Akanji, B., Mordi, C., & Ajonbadi, H. A. (2020). The experiences of work-life balance, stress, and coping lifestyles of female professionals: insights from a developing country. Employee Relations: The International Journal, 42(4), 999-1015.

Folke, O., Rickne, J., Tanaka, S., & Tateishi, Y. (2020). Sexual harassment of women leaders. Daedalus, 149(1), 180-197.

Schlamp, S., Gerpott, F. H., & Voelpel, S. C. (2021). Same talk, different reaction? Communication, emergent leadership and gender. Journal of Managerial Psychology36(1), 51-74.

Timko, K. (2017). Gender, communication styles, and leader effectiveness.

Vinkenburg, C.J., Van Engen, M.L., Eagly, A.H. and Johannesen-Schmidt, M.C. (2011), “An exploration of stereotypical beliefs about leadership styles: Is transformational leadership a route to women’s promotion?”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 10-21


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Discussion - Communication Styles

Discussion – Communication Styles

Prompt: Based on the reading for this module, what seem to be the most significant differences in communication style between women and men in leadership? How do these differences impact the performance of women and men leaders?

Reading resources:

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