Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
You’re standing in a room talking when someone comes in and makes himself known; the attention of the room instantly goes to him as everyone listens to what he has to say, captivated by how he holds himself. You just met an alpha male. The alpha male personality is undeniable when encountering it, but also misunderstood.
You need to understand the alpha male.
Understanding different people and how they act based on their personality types will give you a huge boost when you are facing your dragons and making progress in your life. Knowing which people are going to help you achieve your goals and which will get in your way is a huge benefit if you want to be successful.
What’s an Alpha Male?
In biology, the alpha male is at the top of the dominance hierarchy of animal societies. He’s the king or the dominant male everyone else looks to and follows.
Of course, we’re not talking about primates here, but the idea is the same. Human social relationships are much more complex than our chimpanzee cousins, but the fundamental structure remains relatively similar. There are less dominant males, the beta males, who follow the alpha and support him, while the alpha is the biggest, most confident male in the group.
In animal circles, the alpha male is the one who gets to mate with the females most often, and it’s a similar story in our society. Alpha-male types, which are larger, more confident, and more aggressive, are more attractive to women than weaker, passive men.
Ultimately what makes someone an alpha male is his personality characteristics.
Are Alpha Males Myth or Science?
Many want to prove that the idea of alpha and beta males in society is just a myth and that human psychology is far more complicated than the simple socio-sexual hierarchy would have us believe. There is undoubtedly some truth in that. But the fact that alpha males exist is pretty obvious for anyone who’s ever stepped outside and lived in the world. You see them every day.
The Rest of the Socio-Sexual Hierarchy
There are seven male personalities in the socio-sexual or dominance hierarchy:
- Alpha male – Leader of the pack
- Beta male – Subordinates of the dominant male
- Delta male – The everyman
- Gamma Male – Disinterested in social status
- Sigma Male – The lone wolf
- Zeta Male – Socially active but insecure
- Omega Male – Nice guy loser
Personality Traits Alpha Males Possess
The Confidence to Establish Dominance
Alpha males are extroverts, unlike ambiverts or omniverts; they’re always highly extroverted. This comes across in their confidence.
When you see a man who is never awkward or nervous, always willing to talk, and confident in his own self-worth and his skills and abilities, you might be talking to an alpha male.
While confidence is a great attribute, it can come off as arrogance, which is extreme yet undeserved confidence. Arrogance is perhaps people’s biggest complaint about alpha males; although they might not say it to their face, arrogance is one form of masculine energy gone too far.
Most alpha males understand this early on and temper the way they communicate to avoid sounding arrogant; that’s part of their charisma.
A Charisma Everyone’s Attracted to
Alpha males speak with more than confidence; they have a hypnotizing energy that seems to pull you in and make you like them; this is their charisma.
Charisma is a difficult word to define precisely, but there are parts of it that you can learn to imitate.
- Eye contact
- Facial Expressions
- Body language
- Active listening
Alpha males are master communicators, have natural conversation skills, and do all the right things subconsciously to make you pay attention.
Alpha males will always look you in the eye without it feeling creepy; their disarming smile usually helps, along with their natural humor.
Another vital part of their charismatic personality is their ability to listen. They really hear what you say and don’t simply wait for their turn to speak. This means the conversation flows naturally, and the topic of discussion is interesting because they are commenting on what you said.
Lastly, they are authentic. Whether a bricklayer or a lawyer, they are who they are, which has a natural charm all on its own.
Alpha Males are Assertive
Perhaps the most prominent personality trait of alpha status is assertiveness. They’re alpha because they’re dominant. That doesn’t mean they always try to subject their will to others, though sometimes it does.
Usually, it comes across as them being very sure of who they are, what they want to do, or what they want you to do.
When someone disagrees or wants to go in another direction, they’re likely to show you why they are the alpha male, and if you’re below them in the dominance hierarchy, you’ll find them challenging to argue with.
Ambition & Leadership Skills
Ambition is the core driver of society. It’s the want or the need for progress, and alpha males have it in spades. One of the reasons beta males don’t attempt to overthrow a powerful alpha is that they can make more progress underneath him than by replacing him. The alpha male’s ambition is the tide that raises all boats.
You often find alpha male CEOs or in other leadership positions because they are effective at getting things done. It’s not that they have incredible time management skills or use the best productivity tools; they simply have an innate drive to do more and be more.
One of the main drivers of all that ambition is the alpha male’s competitiveness. They don’t necessarily want to build the best company to help society (though they might.) More often, they want to be better than the competition.
They have the confidence to believe they are capable of being the best, and they have the ambition and drive to actually make it happen.
Alpha Male Examples
The easiest way to understand the alpha male is to see him in action. Pull up Youtube and watch any of these guys, and you’ll see the qualities above that make them alpha males.
UFC champion and the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously in the promotion’s history. Undeniably one of the greatest fighters of all time, but it was his charisma, confidence, and competitiveness that first got him noticed by MMA fans and his first title shot after only five fights.
For many men, Arnold Schwarzenegger defines manliness and what it means to look like a man. But he didn’t only look the part of an alpha action hero; he lived it too.
So ambitious was this seven-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilder that he became the highest-paid actor of all time and gave it up to take on one of the highest offices in politics as governor of California.
If you’ve ever watched Hell’s Kitchen or any of Gordon’s other (many) shows, you’ll understand how assertive he can be. It’s very rare that anyone talks back after being told off by Gordon Ramsay.
But if you ever watch him on chat shows, you see another side of him, and his charisma comes out. A once professional soccer player turned three Michelin star chef, his ambition is clear.