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 “Work Style” is a fundamental and well-known difference in how Max (representing the masculine approach to work) and Fran (representing the feminine approach) work. The masculine end of the masculine-feminine continuum is Compete; the feminine end is Collaborate. Different things energize Max and Fran when working with other people. Max is energized by competition, Fran by collaboration.

The foundational difference between the masculine and feminine view of the world is that Max sees himself as an individual in a hierarchy, competing for status; Fran sees herself as part of a network where connections matter more than status. In childhood, Max and Fran played differently; Max played games with hierarchy and winners and losers; Fran played games where the power structure was flat and relationships trumped winning. Max and Fran structure organizations, teams and even work space differently. The difference in work style is consistent with all of these differences, which we have explored in earlier posts.

Hierarchy invites competition. Competition is deeply rooted in Max. It helps establishes who is on “top” (status), and Max is more comfortable knowing if he is “one up” or “one down” in many situations. When men are in a stable hierarchy (where they all know who is the “alpha” and who fits where), levels of testosterone and cortisol diminish, and aggression subsides.

Fran values relationships and is most comfortable in flat structures. She creates teams in which power is more evenly distributed. Collaboration supports the maintenance of relationships and downplays relative status.

The two sides of the continuum in the area of Our Work Style are:




Motivates others through competition Motivates others through collaboration
Plays to win Seeks win-win outcomes
Keeps score on things Treats team members as peers
Promotes his own ideas Solicits ideas from all


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