A good leader can either be an alpha or a beta woman.
The truth is that being an alpha or a beta leader doesn’t really matter and is just a way to box people in.
1. The influence of popular culture and unconscious biases
Popular culture creates the definition of alpha and beta and shapes unconscious biases.
In popular culture, women have been portrayed very differently. Movies have become critical in the opinions that women form of themselves and have about their ambitions and aspirations.
Indeed, movies and popular culture create unconscious gender and racial biases in the workplace.
On one hand, alpha women are all we see in the media world today. Alpha women are presumably in control, career driven and are not as lovable as beta women. They are either difficult, evil or unhappy.
On the other hand, beta women are supposedly not career-driven. They would use their job to fill a void until a man comes along to improve their lives.
In reality, beta women are not necessarily timid or introverted. They just don’t push their own agenda, intend to fit in at work and bypass their own ego. They also tend to reserve their opinion for themselves, give constructive criticism, and take time to make decisions. In addition, they are emotionally intelligent, flexible, pragmatic and are able to work with different personality types.
Most of the time, if the male counterparts watch these movies or conform to popular beliefs and if women don’t exhibit leadership traits as seen on TV, then they don’t believe that women possess any leadership traits.
Furthermore, according to recent studies, alpha women who participate in meetings are seen as dominating when being dominating is a key component in alpha men leadership style. Beta men who are relaxed leaders are seen positively whereas beta women who exhibit the same trait are not even seen as leaders.
To overcome these biases, popular culture needs to be updated.
2. Success for women in the workplace
As hard as it is to quantify success, both women and men generally get confused about what success really looks like.
Often, a job and the level of success are directly related to a personality even though the personality doesn’t do the job.
Women generally set the bar too high for themselves and are unable to emulate the standard of perfection. For instance, successful women are expected to be in charge of the room, of the conversation and meetings.
Moreover, the only two women in the workplace are usually pitted against each other because men decided that there can only be one successful woman in the room.
Before rushing towards success, women need to:
- Understand what success actually looks like and take steps towards success.
- Watch their presentation, protect their identity and don’t let their workplace define them.
- Check the standards set by employers, themselves and others.
- Beat to the sound of their own drum.
- Stay authentic. Authenticity allows you to retain a sense of self. Authenticity has allowed many people to achieve success and connect with others.
- Take time to do nothing and don’t spread themselves thin.
Quiet Girls Can Run the World : Owning Your Power When You’re Not the “Alpha” in the Room by Rebecca Holman is exploring the various ways that women can deal with different types of environments without compromising their sense of self.
The roles of women in the workplace lack so much nuance. Rebecca Holman is attempting to figure out if beta women can be as successful as alpha women in the workplace by comparing the traits of alpha and beta women without placing one above the other.
Quiet Girls Can Run the World : Owning Your Power When You’re Not the “Alpha” in the Room is also a hilarious guide on how to embrace who you are, how to find out what works for you without faking it, how to navigate office politics, various bosses without suppressing your identity, ambitions, needs and wants.
Being an alpha or beta leaders does not matter. What really matters is that you get to know yourself and what works for you.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Success at work only looks one way. And a successful woman? She’s shouting louder than everyone else in the room. She’s stubborn and argumentative because these are signs that she’s passionate about the project at hand and cares about its success above all else. Ergo, she’s good at her job.
“the media is selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Boys learn that their success is tied to dominance, power, and aggression. We must value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes.”
It matters because women’s voices simply aren’t being heard on their own terms. Numerous studies have shown that women are interrupted far more often in meetings than men, as well as in the classroom—as a 2004 study from Harvard Law School demonstrated. And, according to a study by Princeton and Brigham Young University, if women talk 25–50 percent of the time in a professional meeting, they are seen as “dominating the conversation.
Similarly, studies show that while men in leadership positions are seen in a positive light when they demonstrate traditionally Alpha leadership traits (such as being decisive, dominating the conversation, being dogged and dogmatic in the pursuit of goals), women who demonstrate traditional Alpha leadership traits are viewed negatively by both men and women. And while men who have a more relaxed or Beta style of management are still seen in a positive light, female Beta managers aren’t considered at all—because Beta women can’t be managers. But why are we so unwilling to compare the relative merits of different personality types in female managers?
[…] our view of what a good leader looks like is limited, which can leave women feeling boxed in.
“Because, actually, if you’re looking at this volatile, complex, ambiguous world, where everything is so unpredictable, the only thing you can do is work on yourself and your own resilience to be able to cope and keep up and roll with the punches.”
How do you show the world how Alpha you are? You talk a lot and criticize everyone else. It’s a ruse as old as time (probably) and, often, it works. Most people are busy dealing with their own stuff, so they tend to assume that if people are busy dealing with their own stuff, so they tend to assume that if someone is vocal, self-assured, and sounds knowledgeable (read: has a loud voice), they must know what they’re talking about.
It’s hard to realize when you’re in an office environment that has a steep, sometimes toxic hierarchy how much time people spend trying to shore up their own positions, rather than focusing on the task at hand. When you grasp that the vast majority of office interactions are nothing to do with you, it can feel incredibly freeing.
And always remember the golden rule of office politics, which will stand you in good stead through most work crises: it’s not you, it’s them.
You just know as a black girl that you’re not allowed to be outspoken, you just know. When I had my first job, I worked for a magazine and I learned very quickly that the girls that were my age who were white were allowed to speak out. But when I did the same, there would be a throwaway comment like, ‘You don’t need to have that attitude.’ That was when I was twenty-one and I just learned very quickly that I’m not allowed to have the same sort of opinion as my white female counterparts.”
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