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The Alpha in the Room - Dilbert Blog

The Alpha in the Room

We humans like to sort ourselves into categories that are based on how our bodies are different. For example, we see the world as men versus women, and one ethnic group versus another, or old versus young. And we organize our political views around those filters. That made sense throughout history when our bodies defined us and the law was built around those differences. But in 2015, I propose that the most useful categories for grouping people is the distinction between alpha and beta personalities.

Consider the folks running for President. In my subjective opinion, the alphas in the race are:

Trump

Clinton

Fiorina

I won’t list the betas by name, but I think you would agree that the rest of the field has a low alpha vibe. A number of the men on the Republican side have stereotypical feminine mannerisms (or low-T as one wag said). But gender is not the issue here, as evidenced by my alpha list being mostly female. Alpha seems to be one of those qualities you know when you see it. Let’s call it a natural leadership impulse, or ambition.

Each of us will define alpha and beta differently because there is a subjective element to it. I asked an alpha friend to define what an alpha male was in her view. She went on to describe a servant role, and by that I mean she defined her perfect alpha male partner based on the services he could provide to her – earning money, fixing things, doing housework, and protecting her from harm. She wanted him to “take the lead” on things such as planning vacations, but obviously he had to plan only things she wanted.

Now you know why I label my friend an alpha. She can’t even imagine a life where she isn’t at least defining the option set. Nor should she. And that’s my point. 

My observation is that nearly all alpha personalities do well in this world, in part because other alphas are looking for them and mentoring them, no matter what gender or ethnicities are involved. One way you can tell an alpha from a beta is that alphas get job offers even when there is no job. When I encounter an alpha personality, my first instinct is to make a job offer and then figure out what the job is later. Alphas make things happen, whether they are male or female, purple or green, old or young.

Now for the fun part.

Can you label yourself alpha or beta? To keep things simple, let’s say an alpha is a personality who wants (and often expects) to be in charge of every situation. If you would enjoy the job of CEO, for example, despite the stress and hours, you are probably an alpha.

How many alphas do we have today?

Yes, I did write a book. Thanks for asking.