Having a firm-er grip: The impact of leader gender, leadership styles, and follower gender on leadership effectiveness

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

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Pascale Daher

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This research examined how and under what conditions gender affects leadership effectiveness. Grounding the analysis in the Social Identity Theory of Leadership (SITL), a set of hypotheses was developed which predicted that the effect of leader gender on leadership effectiveness will be mediated by leadership group prototypicality. Stemming from the Expectancy Violations Theory and the Uncertainty Reduction Hypothesis, leadership group prototypicality was hypothesized to be a function of firstly the interaction between leader gender and leadership styles (directive versus participative), and secondly between leader gender, leadership styles (directive versus participative), and follower gender. Three studies were conducted to test this. Study 1 collected data from 151 participants who sat through a video manipulation. Moderated mediation analyses revealed that female leaders were considered more prototypical and thus more effective than male leaders when they engaged in directive leadership, and that this relationship was particularly pronounced with male followers. Regardless of follower gender, male leaders were not considered more prototypical than female leaders when they engaged in participative leadership, and the moderated mediation hypotheses were not supported. Study 2 attempted to replicate this finding by utilizing a written scenario manipulation. Data was collected from 170 participants although moderated mediation analyses did not reveal a significant effect of leader gender on leadership effectiveness through leadership group prototypicality. While the findings were in line with the Role Congruity theory, they were also in line with the SITL. Finally, Study 3 replicated the findings of the first experiment in a field setting. Data was collected from 126 employees in the services sector. As in Study 1, moderated mediation analyses showed that female leaders who engaged in directive leadership were more prototypical and ultimately more effective than male leaders who engaged in equivalent behaviour. Study 3 also did not find support for the moderated mediation hypotheses under participative leadership. In sum, the studies conducted provide internal and external validity to the proposed research model.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date21 Dec 2018


  • SITL theory, leadership group prototypicality, directive leadership, participative leadership


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