Meetings belong to the working world like trees to a forest. But sometimes you can hardly see the forest for the trees... In Europe alone, employees spend up to 50 days per year in meetings. These meetings serve a variety of purposes: Information is shared, decisions are being made and problems are solved. In our research, our team at the Chair of Leadership is seeking to shed light on the question how such daily meetings can be made more efficient and satisfying.
For example, in one study we found that particularly female leaders face challenges in meetings. The paper by Sofia Schlamp, Fabiola Gerpott and Sven Voelpel shows in a sample of 41 recorded meetings that men and women do not differ in the way they communicate (task- or relationship-oriented). However, the researchers found a gender difference in the impact of these behaviors: The more male leaders exhibited task-oriented verbal behaviors, such as suggesting solutions, the more frequently they were endorsed as leaders. In other words, female leaders were evaluated less favorable than men by their employees for showing the same leadership behavior (which they also showed just as often as men).
What do these scientific findings mean for organizations and the design of leadership trainings? Often, the problem lies not in the behavior of female leaders, but how their behavior is perceived by others within their organization. Leadership development programs should therefore focus more on raising awareness about the tendency to evaluate male and female leaders differently and create a more inclusive work environment.
Meetings in times of the COVID-19 pandemic
In another research project, we are looking at current changes in meetings. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings have increasingly become part of many employees' daily lives. But how is the transition from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings impacting the communication between managers and employees? And are there gender differences as well?
On 23/24 March, Lioba Gierke presented initial scientific findings on differences between virtual and face-to-face meetings at a PhD workshop with the Toulouse School of Management, Lancaster University Management School and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. The findings suggest that female managers may experience benefits from virtual meetings. We are still in the early stages of this research and will keep you posted about the latest study results on our website!