The Leader-in-Social-Network Schema: Perceptions of Network Structure Affect Gendered Attributions of Charisma

  • Brands R
  • Menges J
  • Kilduff M
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Charisma is crucially important for a range of leadership outcomes. Charisma is also in the eye of the beholder—an attribute perceived by followers. Traditional leadership theory has tended to assume charismatic attributions flow to men rather than women. We challenge this assumption of an inevitable charismatic bias toward men leaders. We propose that gender-biased attributions about the charismatic leadership of men and women are facilitated by the operation of a leader-in-social-network schema. Attributions of charismatic leadership depend on the match between the gender of the leader and the perceived structure of the network. In three studies encompassing both experimental and survey data, we show that when team advice networks are perceived to be centralized around one or a few individuals, women leaders are seen as less charismatic than men leaders. However, when networks are perceived to be cohesive (many connections among individuals), it is men who suffer a charismatic leadership disadvantage re...

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  • Raina A. Brands

  • Jochen I. Menges

  • Martin Kilduff

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