Women are underrepresented in corporate leadership, and while progress is being made, business and academia need a greater understanding of how women can gain access to the type of power that results in the internalisation of influence and the legitimisation of their role as leaders. The research began by considering the literature around interpersonal power and its significance in the execution of leadership. The defining features of followership, self-awareness, and how these relate to a subjective view of authenticity, were explored, in the context of gendered social construction.
A male-dominated industry was sampled and subordinates rated their leaders on perceived self-awareness and attributions of social power. The data were tested for correlation. The results showed that perceived self-awareness results in increased attributions of social power overall. The soft bases of power derive the most impact on power attributions, and the harsh bases are only attributed for male leaders who are perceived to demonstrate self-awareness. Importantly, perceived self-awareness has the strongest correlation overall with information power attributions for women leaders, which base has been demonstrated to yield the longest-run of internalised influence. This result demonstrates an actionable way for women to gain influence and legitimise themselves as leaders.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2017.