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   The “foundational” differences between Max and Fran (prototypes for masculine and feminine ways of thinking and behaving) and the three “key drivers” (how they think, what “relationship” means to each and how they express themselves) explain differences in how Max and Fran work. I divide “how they work” into 10 areas, each with poles on the masculine-feminine continuum. (You can download a document showing the continuum in all 10 areas from my website.) I plan to cover all of these areas in the next few months—or you can just read my book!

The first area is “How We Structure Things.” Remember, the masculine (Max’s) worldview is of one competing in a hierarchy. When Max sets up an organization, team, meeting or even office space, the structure that emerges is Hierarchy. Recall that the feminine (Fran’s) view of the world is of a network where relationships trump status and winning. On the feminine end of the continuum in this area is Network, and that is how Fran sets up a group, meeting or space.

Most business organizations are hierarchical, where power is distributed vertically and information flows from top to bottom. Businesses have more recently found value in a flatter (feminine) structure, where power is more diffused, roles more fluid and information flows in multiple directions.

Max’s definition of “team” is something like, “I know my position and I play it well.” Fran’s definition is, “We are all in this together.”

Max sets up office space to demonstrate who has more power–larger offices for those with more power, the corner office for the one with the most. Fran is more likely to set up offices in a “hub and spoke” arrangement, so people can communicate and connect more easily. Max is comfortable in meetings held in the typical conference room, with the one running the meeting (“in charge”) sitting at the head of the table. Fran prefers to set up chairs in a circle so everyone can be heard and seen and everyone feels involved and equal.

Hierarchy is the best structure in time-limited situations, in emergencies or when consistency is required. The military and manufacturing units must operate “because they say so.” In sports, the team captain or coach calls the play; this isn’t the place for discussion or a vote! Network can be slower, but it works best when a leader wants to engage his or her work group, to develop new ideas and to invite creativity. “Buy-in” is higher when people feel their ideas are heard and considered.

The two poles of How We Structure Things are:




Roles and levels are clear Roles overlap; power is shared
Ranks are exclusive Ranks are fluid
Space is used to show rank Space is used to create connection
Team = play my position Team = we’re in it together
Good in emergency Invites participation and buy-in
Good for consistency Encourages creativity


Have you seen these differences?  Share your stories or examples in a comment!