Have you ever struggled to work in a team where your gender was not well represented? According to Lisa Ann Pinkerton, President of Technica Communications and Founder of Women in Cleantech & Sustainability, this largely has to do with differences between male and female leadership styles. Pinkerton spoke to a packed audience at Rev on Friday, March 24th, and she encouraged females to follow their personal leadership style when starting businesses. She believes women’s natural leadership style contrasts greatly from men’s.
Pinkerton presented evidence on the wolf hierarchy, which she believes aligns closely with men’s social interactions. She identified four different classifications within wolves’ hierarchal structure: alphas, betas, gammas, and omegas. As you have probably heard before, alphas tend to lead a pack. Betas are “more relaxed and generous,” gammas “blend in,” and omegas are “lone wolves.” Alphas stand at the top of the hierarchy, and the rest find places below the main leader. This can be intimidating to women, especially when they consider joining startup teams that are small.
Pinkerton believes women do not fall into this structure. Instead, they find themselves much more multifaceted and work across roles. Instead of hierarchical organizations, women are drawn to more flat structures when left to organize themselves. Pinkerton explained this as a circular structure, where women work in a variety of capacities. “Since women arrange themselves in circular structures, they all have at least a small piece of an alpha mentality,” Pinkerton added. This natural comfort of doing many things at once is biological. Brain scans have shown most of males’ cognition occurs in the front of their brains, while females access the front and back of their brains equally and simultaneously. Therefore, startup situations where members are performing a wide range of tasks are well suited for females.
“The most important thing is to have leadership awareness,” Pinkerton advised. Having a general idea of leadership differences between men and women allow all genders to coexist and collaborate together. When starting a company, it is important to design organizational structures that engage everyone.