Purpose - Folk theory and empirical studies generally indicate that women tend to be somewhat more expressive than men. The present study seeks to determine whether there are gender-related emotion-expressiveness differences among senior executives and to explore the extent to which there are emotion expressiveness differences by organizational position.
Design/methodology/approach - The levels of self-reported expressiveness among senior organizational leaders (781 males, 669 females) were examined. Differences by gender and position were explored using ANOVAs.
Findings - In several key positions, including CEOs, males reported themselves to be significantly more expressive than females. However, differences between male and female expressiveness were not observed for certain executive positions. Further, both males and females reported statistically significant low levels of expressiveness.
Research limitations/implications - Professionals charged with addressing conflict within organizations may find themselves handling socio-emotional aspects of leadership if executives are not fulfilling this responsibility. Further, organizational initiatives, such as organizational learning, may be hindered if executives do not engage in managing the emotional aspects of leadership. Finally, the reasons for gender-role reversal found in the present study should be explored in future research.
Originality/value - This study adds to the literature on gender, emotion, and leadership. There are two primary contributions of the present study. First, female executives tend to report themselves as less expressive than male executives; this is in contrast with research that suggests that women are better at emotional expressiveness than men. Second, executives are, in general, not focusing on the socio-emotional dimensions of leadership, which is a well-accepted element of successful leadership.