Leadership style Leading is the art of communicating a clear vision and empowering employees towards organizational goals. Mgbere (2009) defines leadership as the ability to work with a group of people (employees) to achieve a goal (Northouse, 2015; Fry, 2003; Robbins and Coulter, 2001; Lussier, 1990). He also points to the fact that the leadership style affects performance (Sauer, 2011; Fry, 2003; Bycio et al., 1995; Bass and Avolio, 1990). Although “no gender differences in leadership style are found” (Engen et al., 2001, p. 581), in today’s environment where cultures are changing rapidly due to globalization, leaders play a definitive role in helping the corporate entity to adapt to this new changing culture (Fiedler, 1996; Hennessey, 1998). Culture is expressed either implicitly through communicating information or explicitly through rules and regulations (Hofstede, 2011). While there are reports that males score high on individualism and masculinity, whereas females score high on power distance and long-term orientation (Alanezi and Alansari, 2016), evidence from Europe shows that women’s delineation and critical thinking boosts creativity and widens the panorama of decision-making (Christiansen et al., 2016), leaving a strong impact on female directors’ performance in China (Liu et al., 2014).
According to Chen (2004), recent organizational crises have emphasized the need for leadership and personal commitment, which has become more critical for organizational success (Selznick, 2011), irrespective of gender stereotyping (Engen et al., 2001), while the leaders’ valuation is in itself highly gender stereotyped (Eagly et al., 1992). In addition, women are still underrepresented and less likely to be promoted for top leadership positions (Glass and Cook, 2016; Salloum et al., 2016).
Many models of leadership are incorporated in leadership theories and even if males in the MENA region have monopolized these models, a further look among other developed societies might anticipate in resizing the number of female leaders in the Arab countries (Sidani et al., 2015). Sidani (2016) sees that the change can occur gradually whenever cultural and institutional factors welcome this fair participation and unprejudiced opportunities for working women.
The study of leadership has been developed over the past 100 years (Bass, 2000). The impact of leadership style on corporate culture and its challenges to adapt to any new culture highlights the importance of having a more dynamic understanding for the role of organizational leaders and culture in ensuring the organization’s present and future success (Ehrhart et al., 2013; Mgbere, 2009).
Furthermore, Cuong and Swierczek (2008) report that leadership competencies consist of eight skills, namely, peer, leadership, conflict resolution, information processing, unstructured decision-making, resource allocation, entrepreneurial and introspection.
From the motivation-based leadership theories emerged transformational leadership (Liden et al., 2014; Yukl, 1997), transactional leadership (Piccolo et al., 2012; Bass and Avolio, 1994), path-goal leadership (Fry, 2003; House, 1996; House and Mitchell, 1974) and charismatic leadership (Fry, 2003; Conger and Kanungo, 1998; Shamir et al., 1993; House and Howell, 1992; House, 1977). Transformational leadership on one hand is defined in terms of the leader’s effect on followers, where employees feel trust, admiration, loyalty and respect towards the leader (Liden et al., 2014; Yukl, 1997). Transactional leadership, on the other hand, emphasizes on the exchange or transaction that takes place between colleagues and leaders, and leaders and followers (Bass and Avolio, 1994; Piccolo et al., 2012). Path goal
Employees’ performance of
leadership motivates employees by selecting the appropriate behaviour for each situation (supportive, participative or achievement-oriented) and providing all the employees needs along their path towards the goal (Fry, 2003; House, 1996; House andMitchell, 1974). Finally, charismatic leadership requires certain talents such as the ability to influence and inspire others towards ideological goals and moral values where followers are willing to mitigate with these values and to go beyond their duties (Fry, 2003; Conger and Kanungo, 1998; Shamir et al., 1993; House and Howell, 1992; House, 1977).
Mgbere (2009) notes the complexity of the research on the relationship between the corporate culture, leadership style and corporate performance due to the multiplicity of cultures to which the organization’s members belong, and this situation makes the role of the leader harder and more difficult to define and to relate it directly to the corporate performance (Brown et al., 2013). Davis and Landa (2000-2001) support the existence of a relationship between the leadership style and performance, and they refer in their article to Duxbury and Higgins (1991) research that shows the impact of a supervisor who follows the controlling style which results in undermining the employees’ effectiveness, as opposed to the impact of a supervisor who follows the supportive style and which results in developing more effective employees. To positively use the leader’s position and its impact on employees’ performance, the leader in the first place should fit into the organization’s culture, and his leading style should be adequate to the circumstances of the organization as well as to its culture. This combination will empower the positive relationship between the leadership style and the performance (Fullan, 2011; Lee, 2008; Yiing and Bin Ahmad, 2009). The gender inequality in the number of female upper-level manager is thus attributed to “gender connotations” (Cooper Jackson, 2001) and to the lack of appropriate style of leadership at the female leaders (Engen et al., 2001). Thereby, “the more instrumental, task oriented, autocratic styles are therefore often referred to as masculine leadership styles and the interpersonal-oriented, charismatic, and democratic styles as feminine leadership styles” (Engen et al., 2001, p. 582). But whether these affect performance remains to investigate.
2.3 Performance Employee performance can be defined as the activities that are formally recognized as part of the job and that contribute to the organization’s goals (Borman and Motowidlo, 1997). There are two dimensions of performance: an action dimension known as the behavioural aspect and an outcome dimension known as the performance aspect (Roe, 1999; Campbell et al., 1993; Campbell et al., 1990). In this paper, the behavioural aspect of performance is considered to be consistent with the work situation and job specifications, which then turns into the means of achieving organizational goals and objectives, that is, the outcome dimension or the performance aspect.
Employee performance is the building block of an organization, as the progress of an organization is a collective effort of all its members (Isaac Mwita, 2000). The main purpose of any organization is to maximize productivity, decrease employee turnover and increase employee retention (Mowday et al., 2013). Therefore, to reach organization’s goals, managers need to focus on factors that affect the performance of employees at the workplace and hence increase the productivity (McColl-Kennedy and Anderson, 2002). At the beginning of their career, males and females show no remarkable disparity in the level of their performance; however, with time, gender differences become visible (Van Den Besselaar and Sanström, 2016; Tlaiss and Kauser, 2011) when uncontrolled situations such us discrimination (Mills, 2017), constricted collaboration, motherhood and cramped conditions emerge (Larivière et al., 2011). Yet, gender diversity increases the financial performance of organizations (Christiansen et al., 2016). Consequently, the factors that lay the foundation for high performance must be analysed