Does testosterone impact a person’s ability to run a successful business and if so, does that mean that only men are suited to becoming entrepreneurs? Given that power positions in the world of business have traditionally been given to males over their female counterparts, you have to wonder how big an impact the hormone testosterone has on whether men or women become successful entrepreneurs.
A study undertaken by the University of Western Ontario shares some interesting facts and findings when comparing male and female entrepreneurs and the direct relevance of testosterone. With testosterone being a hormone that induces risk taking, it stands to reason that successful entrepreneurs, to some degree, have a higher than average acceptance level of risk.
The journey into entrepreneurship is one that isn’t easy and often requires a great deal of risk be it socially, financially or emotionally. It is on this basis that perhaps men are seen to be more likely to become entrepreneurs. The number of female entrepreneurs, however, are certainly on the rise so one has to question whether there are other hormones at play; whether female levels of testosterone are high enough to induce the risk taking needed.
Of course, the other consideration is the definition of an entrepreneur in regard to any such studies. The study uses this definition which is fairly broad:
“Entrepreneurship occurs at the conjunction of the opportunity and the individual. It is the individual who identifies, pursues, and exploits a new business opportunity.”
When we think of people like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, we know that their success was linked directly to the amount of risk they took in the early days. What we don’t know was whether or not their testosterone levels were the driving force behind them taking those risks. If so, how do we replicate that in today’s world, many decades after these men began to make their marks?
Whilst the link between successful male entrepreneurs and testosterone seems obvious at first, there is a long way to go to be able to determine the true result of this connection given how many variables are encountered along the way.
Given that every person’s journey is taken at a specific time, in reaction to a specific set of circumstances and with a different set of qualities and skills, the link between testosterone and success would be almost impossible to narrow down unless comparing two equal counterparts in every aspect of their journey.
Without conclusive proof, it is still an interesting subject to consider when studying leaders and entrepreneurs and their success and failures.
What is your opinion? Is testosterone really so significant in entrepreneurial success?