Alpha ... it's a quality of all leaders. Although it is typically refers to the dominant person in a group (see the definition at Dictionary.com). As an adjective it refers to "being the most prominent, talented, or aggressive person in a group: the alpha male of investment bankers." But alpha is really about being the defacto leader. Alpha is more about leading the tribe whether you are the acknowledged leader or not. Seth Godin's blog entry "Give and get" talks about the power of a tribe as being the sum (or exponential growth) of all of the value that each tribe member gives. As oppsoed to delegating all tribal responsibilties to the derfacto tribe leader.
So what is Alpha? And how do we know it when we see it?
Alpha represents the "leader of the pack". That's it. It doesn't define if the leader is in the front, middle or back of the pack. It's just the leader of the pack. And in fact as long as a leader doesn't care who get the credit then he can lead from behind very effectively. So all alphas are not front men.
Now that we know what Alpha is ("leader of the pack"), how do we know it when we see it?
Well Alphas have a few common traits:
- They have a clear direction they are going. Alphas decide ahead of time what direction they want to move in, and then start to move that way. Their direction is not influenced by other people.
- They are the rock. Clear leadership comes from being firm in what one does. By allowing others to spin around them and not having that spinning affect leaders is a common alpha trait.
- Alphas make decisions under uncertainty, but are certain about their decisions. If you see someone taking in incomplete information, processing it, making decisions and taking risks, then you've spoted an alpha.
Are all leaders alpha?
No. Because many leaders are just figure heads but they are not leading. However, all alphas are leaders in some way or another. In a future post we'll talk more about what alphas do on a daily basis.
See you on the wire
-- Steven Cardinale