We investigate how respectful leadership can help overcome the challenges for follower performance that female leaders face when working (especially with male) followers. First, based on role congruity theory, we illustrate the biases faced by female leaders. Second, based on research on gender (dis-)similarity, we propose that these biases should be particularly pronounced when working with a male follower. Finally, we propose that respectful leadership is most conducive to performance in female leader–male follower dyads compared with all other gender configurations. A multi-source field study (N = 214) provides partial support for our hypothesis. While our hypothesized effect was confirmed, respectful leadership seems to be generally effective for female leaders irrespective of follower gender, thus lending greater support in this context to the arguments of role congruity rather than gender dissimilarity.
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- gender dissimilarity
- respectful leadership
- role congruity theory