This paper assessed the theoretical explanations for similarities and differences in managers’ leadership behaviors as well as their empirical support based on data from 222 corporate managers in eight companies and 385 public managers in three public agencies in Sweden. Two explanations for similarities and differences in male and female public managers’ leadership behaviors have been suggested in previous studies. The public–private distinction says that public and private organizations are distinctly different, and thus explains differences between public and private managers leadership behaviors. Gender theory argues that the ratios of male to female managers explain of differences in leadership behaviors. However, this explanation did not explain similarities in leadership behaviors in the three Swedish public organisations investigated. The leadership behaviors of public managers were the same even though there was a female majority in management in one organization and a male majority in the other two. It is suggested that the distinct characteristics of public organizations explain the similarities in leadership behaviors of both male and female public managers. The public‐distinction explanation appears to outweigh the gender‐based explanation.