On 19th May SI Partners hosted an informal talk with Dr Dana Ardi to discuss the findings of her latest book, The Fall of The Alphas – here are the highlights:
Alpha is out and Beta is in – collaborate like an orchestra, don’t command like an army.
Hierarchies are being replaced by networks. The Alpha model is the traditional, hierarchical style of leadership with one omnipotent leader at the top of the chain, like the military model with a commander and a troop. But this model, where all of the answers reside at the top, is increasingly less relevant for many companies in today’s connected, globalised, empowered society. The world is moving towards a Beta model. Beta is a model of collaboration in which there is an awareness of team and self. Beta is more like an orchestra: there is a conductor who matches the best individual talent to each task and leads the team to collaboratively solve problems.
The world has changed and the workforce has changed – now we need to communicate, collaborate and curate.
Beta culture has come about as a result of a multitude of cultural shifts – the women’s rights movement, technology, globalisation – the world has changed and the workforce has changed. Now organisations need to respond to that by developing their leadership styles. We have to learn to lead through the three C’s of beta leadership: communication, collaboration and curation.
Communication: Leaders need to possess the ability to both talk and listen successfully.
Collaboration: We need to create environments where people feel safe to share ideas and contribute.
Curation: Beta leaders put the best teams together and let those teams excel by utilising their individuality and diversity of thought to collaboratively problem solve.
Betas know the right questions to ask (they don’t have to always know the right answers).
In order to be a beta leader you have to have a managed ego, which means having an open mind and being willing to listen. Beta leaders understand that the best answers reside among the team, not with the individual “at the top of the tree.” It’s about knowing the right questions to ask, not necessarily knowing the right answers.
The hardest part of implementing a Beta culture is gaining an understanding that although it’s not an Alpha model, it isn’t a free for all either. Just because leadership doesn't have to mean omnipotence, it doesn't render leadership unimportant. It isn't possible for everyone to weigh in and have an opinion on everything, so the beta model still needs leadership, but it is about leading collaboration and taking responsibility as a team.
Companies have to be taught to collaborate. Collaboration isn't something you can just wake up one morning and roll out through your organisation. Companies have to be taught to collaborate. Successful implementation of a Beta model comes from changing the top down and the bottom up. You have to create environments where people feel safe, have the opportunity to share and are rewarded for team behaviour. Then you have to celebrate that level of collaboration throughout the organisation’s culture. You also have to recruit managed egos and manage the talent within the organisation carefully. It’s not an easy fix, it’s evolutionary – but once it starts there’s no shutting it down.
The ideal outcome of a beta leadership model is a business community where people come to work every day willing to solve problems and take pride in their work. Work environments where employees want to stay, want to contribute and want to do their best work.
Watch the YouTube videos of the event to learn more here: