7 traits of Alphas: How do you know if you are an alpha?

Not everybody is an alpha and many successful people are not alphas – but so many alphas are successful that we often correlate the two. But just what do we mean when we call somebody an alpha? In biology, an alpha male is the dominant male in a group of pack animals, such as dogs or wolves. In the business world, though, an alpha is a male or female who is able to dominate the work environment. Often, alphas make natural leaders, which is why they do so well in the business world. So just how do you recognize an alpha? How do you know if you’re an alpha? Here are seven common traits to help you identify who in your work life is an alpha:


Confidence is one of the traits most associated with alphas. Alphas use their confidence to excel at work by sharing the ideas without hesitation or self-doubt. They are willing to approach the boss about a raise or promotion instead of timidly waiting for it to come to them. Alphas have self-assurance regarding the assets and are confident enough in themselves to honestly appraise their weaknesses and seek out help when necessary. Alphas may actually have a bad tendency to be cocky, though, so if you know that you’re an alpha, you may want to make sure that you keep yourself in check.


Vanity isn’t always a bad thing – it’s just excessive vanity that’s a problem. Having some amount of vanity is actually a huge plus in the business world because it means that you’ll be paying plenty of attention to your appearance – and in business, appearances are always important. Alphas tend to take care of themselves and their bodies by working out and maintaining a good grooming regimen. As long as it doesn’t develop into excessive vanity, that sort of concern about appearance can be a huge boost to a business career.


Like vanity, pride is one of the seven deadly sins. However, also like vanity, in moderation it isn’t a bad thing. Alphas are able to recognize the value of their successes and celebrate them accordingly. They never have a problem with elevator pitches or confidently introducing themselves to a roomful of strangers – because alphas take pride in and recognize their accomplishments. Even if you’re not an alpha, learning to recognize and take pride in your accomplishments. After all, if you want others to recognize your accomplishments, you need to be able to recognize and identify them as well.


Humility isn’t an obvious alpha trait, but it’s an important one. See, with the pride and confidence, alphas would just irritate everybody if they didn’t have a little humility. When alphas find themselves in leadership positions – as they often do – humility can be key in understanding when you can take care of something yourself and when it is a better use of resources to get some help. Humility is also really important for maintaining motivation and a willingness to push oneself to the max. If you think that you’ve got it all and that you’re so good there’s nothing else that you need to do, you won’t continue to push yourself to achieve more – and achieving more is what alphas are all about.


Alphas take risks in order to succeed. Taking risks, of course, takes courage. But alphas are willing to take necessary risk to get ahead. Of course, even if you’re an alpha, you’ll find that sometimes you’re just not in a position to take a risk – and there is an important difference between taking a risk and taking a stupid risk. Successful alphas don’t take stupid risks – and you shouldn’t either.


Part of the way alphas get ahead is through dedication and elbow grease. Just because they are alphas doesn’t mean that they have everything handed to them without trying. They have to work hard, too, but it’s in their nature as alphas to do just that. Simply working hard won’t make you an alpha, but it is one important alpha trait that goes a long way toward explaining their penchant for success.


Winners never quit – and neither do alphas. Although they tend to lead successful business careers, like anybody else they don’t get there without some failures along the way. However, when they encounter failure, alphas are undeterred; they keep on keeping on until they succeed.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.