Moving Up the Corporate Ladder: A Longitudinal Study of the Leadership Motive Pattern and Managerial Success in Women and Men

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Abstract

Using TAT data collected prior to entering management positions, sex-differences in motive patterns related to leadership were examined in a 12 year longitudinal study of 211 males and 180 females who entered a large utility corporation between 1977 and 1982. Subjects were followed-up in 1990 and recorded as to how far they had advanced in management level. The TAT protocols were scored for n Power, n Achievement, n Affiliation, and Activity Inhibition. In addition, a content analysis of themes related to the Power motive were performed. While the results showed no sex-differences in motivational predictors of attained management level, the content analysis revealed two distinct styles of power related themes that distinguished the successful men from the successful women. The successful male managers were more likely to use Reactive Power themes while the successful female managers were more likely to use Resourceful Power themes. Differences between the sexes in the power themes were less pronounced among the managers who had remained in lower levels of management. The research suggests that men and women leaders are both interested in power but think about it in different ways.

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