Alpha Male Syndromeby Kate Ludeman, Eddie Erlandson
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The business world swarms with alpha malespowerhouses who take charge, produce astonishing results, and bring enormous value to their organizations. But many alphas also leave a path of destruction in their wake. Competitive, belligerent, and impatient, these hard-charging leaders can run roughshod over colleagues and employees, to the detriment of their careers and the bottom line.
In Alpha Male Syndrome, Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson build on their Harvard Business Review article Coaching the Alpha Male”sounding a wake-up call to all alphas and the companies they work for. The authors show alphas how to leverage their unique strengths while confronting their destructive flip side risks.” They describe the distinguishing dynamics of the alpha male syndrome and identify four breeds: commanders, executors, strategists, and visionaries. By understanding each type’s nuances, alphas can transform themselves into more effective leaders. And those who work with alphas can transform nightmare work groups into collaborative dream teams. Exercises, checklists, and tips enable readers to harness the enormous power of the alpha personality while minimizing the downsides of alpha behavior.
- Harvard Business Review Press
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Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson have made an important contribution to the field of human resources management with their examination of the Alpha Male Syndrome. (Business) history is made by alphas, most of them being male. Ludeman and Erlandson sub-divide the alphas in four categories that are not mutually exclusive: Commander, visionary, strategist, and executor. The Alpha Male Syndrome represents a mix of positive and not-so-positive behavioral patterns. Ludeman and Erlandson point out that the talent, drive, and energy that make alphas so effective become their downfall when they are overused, excessive, or misplaced. Ludeman and Erlandson conclude from their research that hard-driving competitiveness, interpersonal impatience, and difficulty controlling anger are the three major risks against which alphas have to be guarded. Ludeman and Erlandson also discover in their study that the difference between alphas who progress and alphas who regress is most pronounced in the area of interpersonal relations. Family, colleagues, and companies can pay a heavy price for the dysfunctional behavior of alphas. More conscious of the emotional climate, female alphas are more likely than their male alter egos to search for consensus and buy-in rather than impose their will. This finding is not so surprising when one knows that on average, women are better at empathy and men are better at systemizing. To their credit, Ludeman and Erlandson give alphas and those who work for alphas tools to polish the sharp edges existing in their relationships. Finally, Ludeman and Erlandson make recommendations about the well-being of alphas. Alphas can be their own worst enemies if they do not know how to properly channel their talent, drive, and energy. Qualified coaching can help alphas make the necessary changes to their benefit and for the well-being of the people around them.
Executive coaches Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson do a lively job of presenting the pitfalls of the brilliant but overbearing boss who manifests the 'alpha male syndrome.' However, sometimes they wield a pretty broad brush. Take the statement, 'We¿ve observed that many leaders who fit the dysfunctional alpha male typology fall prey to sexual predation, becoming womanizers who use conquest and control to assert their dominance.' This kind of wrap-up could leave you wondering who is the predator and who is the prey. Rounding out such proclamations is tricky, since the alpha male syndrome is not a standard psychological diagnosis, but the authors¿ discovery and coinage. With those caveats, this sobriquet might help managers who need to understand why they abuse the people around them - and how to stop. Perhaps it is better for the alpha to see himself not as a vicious bully, but as a man burdened and blessed with a syndrome that has some positive features. Abused employees also may find some helpful coping mechanisms in this popular-style psychological analysis of their overbearing bosses. The book¿s best advice is that alphas should manage stress with exercise and deep breathing - good counsel for anyone. Another good piece of advice is that alphas need, at least, executive coaching. We say they can start here.