What type of behaviour affords status, agentic, or communal? Research to date has yielded inconsistent answers. In particular, the conflict view holds that agentic behaviour permits the imperious to grab status through overt force, whereas the functional view holds that communal behaviour permits the talented to earn status through popular appeal. Here, we synthesize both views by taking into account the moderating role played by group hierarchy. Group hierarchy can range from being dominance based (where status is grabbed) to prestige based (where status is granted). In a field study (Study 1), and a laboratory experiment (Study 2), we demonstrate that in different groups, status can be achieved in different ways. Specifically, agentic behaviour promotes status regardless of hierarchy type, whereas the effect of communal behaviour on status is moderated by hierarchy type: it augments it in more prestige-based hierarchies but diminishes it in more dominance-based hierarchies.