The Alpha debate: is it about alpha leaders or about behaviours?

Leadership changeWe ran a piece a week or so ago, entitled “The final days of the alpha” which resonated with so many all across the world. Many wrote to us noting that their hope was less that leaders would become less dominant but more that leaders would soften, open up the doors to greater diverse talents and be more supportive of communities within their own companies.

The debate is rightly more about behaviours than the “alpha” leader as the latter is an inevitability. It is estimated that alpha-style leaders equate to around 70% of all senior executives. It is argued that Alpha-style characters naturally reach the top as they are able to positively handle stress in a way most can not. Alphas do not struggle to make big decisions or be phased by the pressures surrounding a leadership role. They are needed as much today as ever; however, the call is for leaders to focus on their communities and people that much more.

What concerns people is far more about poor leadership behaviours and rightly so. This has been a concern over the last decade as it has been felt that poor leadership has been rewarded if the bottom line is delivered and as cuts have been made to the development of internal culture, teams and people. Mention the word alpha and people immediately think of “The Wolf of Wall Street” or Donald Trump more than the often caring leaders across all eras; those who did strive to be bigger, better and think bigger.

It is certainly true that work environments have, over the last thirty years, become increasingly about individuals than about the success of a company as a whole. It is not hard to evidence people’s lack of loyalty to a company as they today expect to have triple the number of jobs an executive in the 1960s or 70s expected to have in a career. Equally it is not hard to evidence the lack of young talent breaking through at senior level as was once so common place.

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If you hold a senior position today, just ask yourself – what age were you when you first achieved director status? Then look around you. The evidence is all there to be seen.

One senior industry figure even wrote to us commenting: “Leadership has become far more egocentric in recent years than about teams. It seems there is more concern about wealth attainment, and image than the whole. It has all become worse in recent years as social media gives everyone a voice. Have you noticed most posts are about what amazing feats a person is achieving rather than any real ear for thought-leadership, original thinking or care for our community. Everyone is outwardly praising one another when the aim is simply to look good.

Many will say I am wrong but one only needs to look at twitter where leaders bring a spotlight on themselves or watch people in the same business all trying to outdo one another. Ask any CEO and they talk of the scars they carry from their own teams, let alone in building a business.

So the question has to asked – when and why do we all forget about the best things of work? Teams working together for mutual success? Friendships? The breadth of the people we attract to work in the industry? Care, compassion, fun?”

So perhaps there is a need to redefine what leadership is today?

Tags: alpha leaders, behaviours, leadership

Media, London, United Kingdom

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