This article is part of our cues guide. Click here for more.
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- Why Princess Diana’s Hidden Body Language Cues are So Intriguing
- Learn the Secret to President Obama’s Vocal Charisma
- How to Be a Respectable Alpha Male (With Real-Life Examples)
Have you ever heard the term alpha male? Let’s break down exactly what it means to be an alpha male and the cues you can use to spot one (and become one!)
What Is an Alpha Male?
An alpha male is a man who is highly intelligent, confident, and successful. Alpha males are generally considered great leaders and prefer to be in positions of power. Common traits alpha males possess include:
- Being in a position of power
- Being comfortable with high levels of responsibility
- Being the most powerful, impressive, or successful person in the room
- Ability to “draw” people to them and have high levels of influence
An alpha male mindset is being confident and comfortable with yourself, having self-control, and staying in the moment, knowing you can handle anything.
In 1000 BCE, the Greeks created their alphabet, with the first letter being alpha. In the centuries that followed, the most dominant creature in a pack of wild animals (or supposedly more evolved humans) was alpha too.
The Science Behind Alpha Males
If you don’t match the stereotypical media-influenced alpha male, don’t sweat it. Alpha males come in different forms.
Here’s some more groundbreaking science about real men today:
- Alpha males have higher stress: Alpha males may actually experience higher levels of stress than their subordinates. This study1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6180231/ suggests this is because of their increased competition for reproductive opportunities that alpha males face.
- Alpha males have a certain mental attitude: Scientists have discovered a brain circuit that, when activated in mice, can transform timid individuals into bold alpha mice that almost always prevail in aggressive social encounters. The study suggests that it might be possible to acquire “alphaness” simply by adopting the appropriate mental attitude.
- Alpha male characteristics change due to society: Alpha men were traditionally labeled bad boys, bossy, or brutes, while beta men were sweet but submissive2https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_myth_of_the_alpha_male.
- Alpha males can be empathetic: Men today are being encouraged to be knowledgeable about emotions and feelings3https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_we_should_help_boys_to_embrace_all_their_feelings, creating a new generation of strong, confident, and empathetic alpha male leaders.
If you want to be a modern alpha male, you need to aim high, elevate your brain, and practice your alpha male cues.
Let’s get into the essential traits and cues of the alpha male so you can learn these traits from successful alpha men and incorporate them into your mindset.
Cue #1: Taking Responsibility
In a world where passing the buck is almost a sport, alpha males stand out by being accountable for their actions.
When they make a mistake, alpha males own it.
And this isn’t just about saying, “I messed up.” Taking responsibility goes beyond mere acknowledgment; it involves making things right.
A prime example is former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. In 2008, Starbucks was facing a crisis: declining sales, closing stores, and a tarnished brand image.
Schultz, who was CEO at the time, did not shy away from taking responsibility for the company’s poor performance. He admitted to losing sight of the customer experience and focused on returning the company to its core values.
Even in personal relationships, an alpha male will not blame his partner for his own shortcomings. Instead, he will own up to his faults, apologize sincerely, and set about making things right, whether that’s through open communication or changing his behavior.
Action Step: The next time you make a mistake, take a “Pause for Responsibility.” Before the day is out, acknowledge your error to yourself and anyone affected. Say clearly, “I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.” Then, immediately ask, “How can we fix this?” This quick two-step process shows you’re an accountable alpha who doesn’t dodge problems but solves them.
Cue #2: Reassuring Touch
Researchers found that charismatic alpha males touch themselves less and others more. They engage in less nervous self-touch cues like:
- Rubbing their neck
- Cracking their knuckles
- Massaging their arm
Instead, they are constantly reaching out to others to give them reassuring touches:
- Pats on the back
- A reassuring shoulder touch
Reassuring touches are great because they’re a nonverbal “I understand you” gesture.
Action Step: Use touch to reassure, calm, or recognize people.
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Cue #3: Claiming Space
The more confident a person is, the more space they claim:
- Using armrests
- Draping their arms around a couch
- Standing with feet wide apart
Watch as Samuel Jackson sits on the couch and claims his space.
You can also claim space, too! But keep in mind when claiming space not to do it in a domineering or aggressive way. Alphas do this because they’re comfortable in situations others might generally be anxious in.
You might even notice the alpha at the table taking space in the boss’s chair.
Action Step: When you feel confident, claim your space.
Cue #4: Eye Openness
People who are not confident or alpha might close up—they may block their chest with their arm or hold something close to it. Alphas, on the other hand, sit, stand, and walk openly.
See as Sylvester Stallone sits open, broad, and expansive:
Another example is John Wayne—when he walks into the room, take note of his open body and slow, purposeful movements:
Or Marlon Brando walking into a bar, claiming space by touching the chairs:
Action Step: To inspire openness, show openness.
Cue #5: Invites Others to Participate
Alpha males invite others to participate—even in dire situations!
Watch this clip and see how Tom Cruise handles it:
Tom Cruise doesn’t get super angry or lose his nerves. He takes control of the guy who threw water in his face by actually taking his hand and saying, “What’s so funny about this?”
This kind of behavior is ingrained. They are used to bringing people in and getting answers, even in challenging situations.
Action Step: Take charge by inviting others to participate more.
Cue #6: Use a Variable Tone of Voice (and Volume)
Researchers found that alphas are dynamic in their voice. They use a louder voice when they are passionate and a quieter one for important things. Or, they speak fast when telling a story and slow down for emphasis.
Let’s take a look at Bruce Lee with his uneven tone of voice:
Lee uses dynamic vocal range in this video, going high up when he introduces the martial arts moves and coming back down when he’s in explanation mode. His vocal dynamism helps us feel hooked to every word he’s saying.
Here’s another example of Jason Mamoa’s vocal dynamism:
He’s going big and bright but also drops down low. We love that in alphas! But not all alphas need to be big and loud like Mamoa. Some can be quiet yet confident such as Brad Pitt:
Action Step: Use lots of vocal variety and dynamic volume
Cue #7: Gaze More (Especially at the End of a Statement)
Alphas typically make more eye contact—but specifically at the end of statements. Alphas might be processing while talking, but at the very end, they might want to see how you feel about that.
You can see this in action by seeing Leonardo DiCaprio talking to Ellen:
Alphas don’t feel the need to make eye contact all the time, but they will when they want to drive in a point or gauge reaction.
Action Step: Gaze more, especially at the end of statements.
Cue #8: More Hand Gestures
Alpha males use a lot of their hands to explain their words. They underline or bold their words with their hands with purpose and impact.
And a great example of an alpha male who uses a lot of hand gestures is The Rock. He uses hand gestures expertly, as well as a handful of other cues that makes him alpha.
Want to know the cues that make The Rock so charismatic? Check out our analysis below!
Cue #9: Perseverance
Perseverance means to keep on trying through challenges and difficulties. For example, here is a successful alpha billionaire who wouldn’t have succeeded without perseverance:
Richard Branson started his first business at age 15. He eventually founded worldwide brands like Virgin Records, Virgin Gaming, Virgin Airlines, and Virgin Mobile. He even got knighted by a Queen!
Then, in 2021, Branson took his alpha male game to outer space with the first spaceflight of Virgin Galactic.
Branson’s business empire is awe-inspiring, but he faced huge difficulties4https://www.space.com/18993-virgin-galactic.html with Virgin Galactic that made him want to quit:
- In July 2007, a fatal explosion delayed the building of Virgin Galactic’s rocket engines.
- In October 2014, Virgin Galactic’s fourth rocket-powered test flight killed its copilot when the vehicle broke apart.
If you think you can only learn perseverance through terrible moments and tragedies, Branson learned perseverance before he’d even made a dime.
Take a look at this text:
“A fired who has dyslexia described to me how she eerpcexenis rdaeing. She can read, but it taeks a lot of creatnnoitocn, and the Itrtees smees to “jump aruond.” I remibmeeed rniadeg aoubt tipmcylyogea. Wduoln’t it be psbslioe to do it ietlvrciatney on a wibstee with Jpsiacarvt? Sure it wloud. Feel like miankg a bikoeorakmt of tihs or soinetmhg? Frok it on ghitub.”
That’s not a foreign language (or broken spell-check). Where others see normal-looking text, a person with the learning disability dyslexia sees this instead.
Richard Branson has dyslexia. It’s why he failed at every subject in school and why his teachers wrote him off as an idiot bound for failure—or prison. But Branson persevered.
Action Steps: Researchers studying perseverance5http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/jid/36/4/205/ discovered that this mindset is essential in predicting long-term achievement. Here’s how to build your perseverance.
- Imagination is a powerful alpha trait, but don’t stop there. Use it to make your dreams a reality. Branson’s vivid imagination fueled his dreams when traditional learning was impossible. He said this about his learning disability6https://www.virgin.com/branson-family/richard-branson-blog/dyslexia-and-imagination: “My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the beginning, and imagination has been the key to many of our successes.”
- Use elbow grease and think abundantly. Branson’s success is an example of the abundance mindset7https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/28/7-things-you-should-immediately-do-if-you-want-to-be-a-millionaire.html. With hard work and faith in your abilities, you can step outside of your comfort zone and use your talents in other areas to reach greater success.
- Don’t get angry when people doubt you. Instead, use grit (determination!) and follow your gut.
Cue #10: Humility
Humility means being free of pride or arrogance and not acting like you’re better than others. For example, this warrior alpha didn’t achieve true happiness and success until he chose humility:
Years before his pro-wrestling days as “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson was an angry college kid in Miami. Johnson’s “scary past8https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/dwayne-the-rock-johnson-reveals-scary-past-as-a-dangerous-football-meat-axe/V6KV2FXMXQQTITJDNGXBFPWV4A/” included:
- being homeless and forced to leave Hawaii at the age of 14
- watching his mother attempt suicide9https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/02/entertainment/dwayne-johnson-depression/index.html in Nashville when he was 15
- knockout fighting a football teammate in college and wanting to maim the guy
When Johnson’s NFL dreams soured, he turned to the WWE, and all that pent-up anger became his arrogant wrestling persona.
While Johnson did win WWE championships, he suffered more serious injuries, and he privately battled chronic, debilitating depression. Johnson knew he was on a self-destructive path.
Johnson began to reevaluate his life. He left the WWE at the height of his fame to attempt a film career—with no guarantee of success—accepting his supposed failures and negative experiences and turning to humility.
Action Steps: The book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins examines successful CEOs who combine drive with humility. Here’s how to acquire humility like Dwayne Johnson.
- It’s not a secret. Johnson says there’s no secret to humility. Work hard, stay hungry, and never behave like a stereotypical dominant alpha male. Remember: the only thing a modern alpha male ever beats into submission is his ego. You also don’t have to keep your vulnerabilities a secret. Being an alpha male is not about being perfect.
- Your mistakes are a learning experience. Johnson has revealed that he didn’t always behave with humility10https://www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a32185986/the-rock-dwayne-johnson-fans-fame-instagram/, and he looked down on fans during his WWE days. It was a mistake, and Johnson treats everyone with respect now. When you make a mistake, lose your temper, or misbehave, own it and learn from it.
- Don’t be afraid of authenticity. If you’re unsure of yourself, your reservations or lack of confidence may seem arrogant. Instead, Johnson demonstrates “authentic pride2https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_myth_of_the_alpha_male.” Your authentic pride comes with self-esteem and seeing yourself as valuable but not superior to others. Alpha males focus on achieving, but they’re agreeable and attuned to the thoughts and feelings of others.
Cue #11: Self-Control
Self-control is disciplining yourself over the impulses, emotions, or desires that aren’t in your best interest. This compact but highly skilled alpha fighter is beloved for his unyielding self-control:
Manny Pacquiao was born into extreme poverty in the Philippines. His family struggled to eat once a day, and Pacquiao’s earliest dreams11https://filipiknow.net/facts-about-manny-pacquiao/ were about eating until his belly felt full.
Pacquiao often slept in the street. Although he was emaciated, Pacquiao survived street life by self-defense with his naturally quick fists.
At age 14, Pacquiao escaped to Manila with dreams of boxing professionally. He remained unbeaten in his first 11 matches, but he struggled with new, unfamiliar temptations like alcohol and gambling.
When Pacquiao lost his 12th match, he turned to his biggest weapon: self-control.
Pacquiao dedicated himself to boxing and found his way to America. In 2001, he met boxing coach Freddie Roach, and his career took off:
- Pacquiao is one of the greatest prizefighters in boxing history, with a 62–8–2 record.
- He’s also a record-breaking world-boxing title holder12https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/17969517/discipline-helped-manny-pacquiao-juggle-dual-roles-ahead-jessie-vargas-bout, winning in eight weight divisions from flyweight to junior middleweight.
His unbelievable life trajectory is a testament to Pacquiao’s self-control, and Pacquiao is perhaps the greatest living example of this alpha trait.
Action Steps: Countless strategies exist13https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201703/10-strategies-developing-self-control for developing the pillars of self-control, including willpower, self-confidence, and balance. Self-control combines a “why” and “how” mindset, as reflected in Pacquiao’s self-control.
- Self-control means a “can-do” attitude. Pacquiao fell victim to temptation because of the indulgences offered to him he’d never experienced before. But Pacquiao never wanted to go back to poverty, hunger, and defeat, so he used the “how” mindset to resist temptation through self-control. Academic research14https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674057272 shows how self-control allows you to function better and deal with stress with a “can-do” attitude—when you believe that you can control yourself, you will.
- Commit to motivating yourself. Pacquiao motivated himself through self-control and seeing the value in what boxing fans wanted: in his words, “two guys that aren’t afraid of going toe-to-toe.” He’s never looked down on his fans, and he honors his opponents as “great warriors,” posing “a different style and threat.” Make a strong commitment15https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0a28/c12a02140983603c7231ebae70564066f86b.pdf to yourself, and motivate yourself13https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201703/10-strategies-developing-self-control to achieve what you want or deserve by controlling your life and reaching your goals—self-control drives you there.
- Always know why. Pacquiao is passionate about boxing, and it has been his focus for decades. When he announced his first retirement from boxing in 2016, Pacquiao focused on politics. He wanted to make life better for his countrymen because he’d walked in their shoes. But something was missing, and Pacquiao knew why. After being elected to the Philippines senate, Pacquiao missed the camaraderie of boxing—and he stunned people when he re-entered boxing while serving in politics. Although it was physically and mentally exhausting, Pacquiao used self-control to manage both jobs, and his passion fueled it. Always keep a “why” mindset and use your passion to fuel your self-control.
Cue #12: Decision-Making
While some might not agree with every choice he’s made, Chris Hadfield’s decision-making skills set him apart as a top-tier leader. Putting aside his specific missions, here is the trait we can learn from him: his incredible decision-making ability.
Decision-making is leading others in the act of deciding on important and complicated issues. Chris Hadfield is renowned as a decision-maker who became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station (ISS).
Hadfield was raised in a corn farm in southern Ontario, Canada. He was inspired by the Apollo 11 Moon landing to become an astronaut and aimed his life decisively in that direction. His journey wasn’t easy, but his determination got him a spot in one of the most exclusive jobs in the world.
During his time in space, Hadfield had to make quick, potentially life-or-death decisions in an environment that is inherently hostile to human life. He gained recognition for his decision-making abilities by:
- Successfully managing the docking of various spacecraft to the ISS
- Dealing with emergencies, like ammonia leaks or fire alarms, in the most effective way
- Using social media to educate people about space and the work that goes into it
Anyone can make an easy decision, but tougher decisions induce greater anxiety in people—especially the commander of an international space station.
Action Steps: Here are practical ways that Chris Hadfield made some tough decisions:
- Break Down the Risks and Neutralize Fear: Hadfield has a methodical approach16https://www.npr.org/transcripts/256596501?ft=nprml&f=256596501 to assessing what could go wrong. He poses the question, “What’s the next thing that’s going to kill me?” Whether it’s an engine shutdown or a system failure, he and his team identify every conceivable risk. But they don’t stop there. They delve into every detail, analyzing how each risk could impact their mission and what they can do to mitigate it. The key to this is preparation—and this leads to excellent decision-making in the moment.
- Control negativity and anxiety. Academic researchers have studied how anxiety and negativity17https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210729122221.htm impact anyone’s ability to make a tough decision. You can learn how to cope with anxiety! Check out this link for some great tips: 24 Powerful Tips to Deal with Anxiety.
Bonus Trait: Vocal Power
Another great cue can be seen from Barack Obama. Obama also uses specific vocal power techniques. A full breakdown of Obama’s vocal power here:
Cue #13: Goal-Oriented
Being goal-oriented means being purpose-driven to accomplish a task or succeed at an objective. This alpha music superstar created his success from a dream nobody believed in:
Shawn Corey Carter grew up amidst drug dealers and gun violence. He flirted with that lifestyle as a teenager, but he stayed in school and got good grades. Carter’s real escape was rap music, and when he couldn’t convince a record company to sign him, Carter reinvented himself as Jay-Z.
Jay-Z founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996 with two friends, and his first release climbed to a modest #23 on the Billboard rap charts. Jay-Z didn’t stop there. He continued to set goals and reach them across multiple business ventures based on his philosophy of being committed to greatness.
Jay-Z has received honors and acclaim for his purpose-driven successes:
- He made TIME magazine’s list of Most Influential People18http://time100.time.com/2013/04/18/time-100/slide/jay-z/ in the World in 2013.
- Forbes named him the first billionaire rap artist in 2019.
- He’s the first rapper to get inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
While alpha traits like being goal-oriented contribute to success, it’s harder to be goal-oriented without defining what you want. Read on…
Action Steps: Researchers say that emotions like gratitude and compassion19https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_emotions_that_can_help_you_succeed_at_your_goals are essential to accomplishing your goals, and examining Jay-Z’s success, you see how these qualities contributed to him being a goal-oriented alpha:
- Proudly define your goals. Jay-Z is a former part-owner of the NBA New Jersey Nets. He later launched a sports management company, Roc Nation Sports, and became a certified sports agent20https://www.one37pm.com/strength/sports/jay-z-sports-agent. As Jay-Z raps, “I’m not a businessman / a business, man.” When you’re proud of your goals, you become your own business. Learn to set your goals: Goal Setting: 5 Science Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals.
- Be grateful for the competition. In 2003, Jay-Z briefly retired from rap at the height of his career. He’d always been thankful to compete against other great MCs, and he’d gotten bored because the competition wasn’t inspiring him. Be inspired by great competitors and thankful when it makes you stronger.
- Be compassionate. In 2012, Brooklyn-tough Jay-Z spoke out to support gay rights and same-sex marriage. Not doing so, he said, was “no different than discriminating against Blacks.” Inclusivity allows everyone to succeed, and a goal-oriented, compassionate alpha is unafraid of that. Check out this article on compassion to build your skill set in this essential alpha trait.
Cue #14: Mental and Physical Strength
When most people think about being an alpha male, they think about being the strongest, biggest person in the room. However, strength is not just physical.
Being mentally and physically strong means your brain and body are aligned, whatever stage of life you’re in. This alpha male leader has been an NFL quarterback for over two decades, and he epitomizes mental and physical strength:
Tom Brady was a happy, middle-class kid who excelled at baseball and football in high school. Brady got drafted into Major League Baseball in 1995, but he chose the University of Michigan to play college football instead.
With Brady as a quarterback, Michigan won the 1999 Orange Bowl. He was described as a smart and determined player and written off as a physically unexceptional quarterback.
Brady experienced rejection until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. However, during his first season with the New England Patriots, Brady worked tirelessly to bulk up his muscles, improving his strength and technique, and it worked.
This far into his career, Brady has racked up the following impressive stats:
- He led the New England Patriots to Super Bowl victories in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, and 2019.
- He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl Victory in 2021.
- He was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player in 2002, 2004, 2015, 2017, and 2021.
It’s a common fact that Brady isn’t the strongest or quickest QB in NFL history, and Brady had to defend himself against the Deflategate21https://www.britannica.com/event/Deflategate scandal too. But Brady is now well into his 40s, and his combined mental motivation and physical strength make a remarkable alpha trait.
Action Steps: It’s common among psychologists and elite athletes that mental toughness is crucial to winning at sports. Because Brady looks physically weaker, he motivated himself by continually making physical and mental conditioning his combined priority:
- Make time for brain games. Brady swears by cognitive exercises22https://mariashriver.com/tom-brady-on-the-mind-of-a-champion/ to stay mentally prepared for the anxiety of the pro-football arena. While some researchers say there’s no evidence23https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170417095528.htm that brain games work, billionaires like Bill Gates play bridge to stimulate their influential minds, and there’s no reason you can’t play hard at a stimulating brain game too.
- Lead like a champion and a mentor. Brady has the unique alpha leadership quality of elevating those around him like he did with the talented, troubled (and formerly terminated) wide receiver Antonio Brown24https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/antonio-brown-living-with-tom-brady-buccaneers/k8mfpkjgc0ps104vqd10u3jsc. When you mentor someone who may not believe in themselves, it elevates the greatness in both of you.
- Be a Method Man. Brady designed a comprehensive lifestyle plan of exercise, nutrition, rest, and mental stimulation that he calls the TB12 Method25https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/leadreadtoday/three-leadership-observations-tom-brady. Suppose you want to hone your psychological and physical strength. In that case, Brady’s regime is sleeping nine hours a night, eating 80% plant-based foods and 20% healthy proteins to limit inflammation, and eliminating distractions by surrounding yourself with positive influences.
Cue #15: Congruent Nodding
Alpha males signal others that they are very confident by aligning their nodding with their words. For example, they’ll say, “Yes,” or “I agree” and nod their head as well. Likewise, if they disagree, you might see them shaking their head, “No.”
Alpha males nod not only as they speak but also as they listen.
Podcaster and actor Dax Shepard26https://armchairexpertpod.com/ is incredibly good at using nods—both nodding while speaking and while listening. Nodding is so great because researchers found that when someone nods at us27https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030708092002.htm, we may speak 3-4 times longer.
Because his nodding allows him to not only voice his opinion but also show empathy. He’ll nod when he agrees with something and also nod “No” if he empathizes with them (“That’s terrible!”). For Shepard, nodding builds rapport with others and makes them feel accepted.
Action Step: Nod with your words while speaking and while listening.
Cue #16: Emotional Stability
Alpha males showcase a remarkable ability to remain calm, especially in situations where others might lose their cool. This quality is not just about suppressing emotions; it’s about understanding them well enough to manage them effectively.
Tony Robbins, the famed life coach and motivational speaker, is a prime example of someone who radiates emotional stability. Whether he’s onstage in front of thousands of people or engaged in a one-on-one intervention, his composure is unshakeable.
Plus, he’s not afraid of shedding a tear in a moment of vulnerability:
Action Step: Controlling your emotions comes from learning about them first. Did you know there are 8 primary emotions, with a mix of emotions in-between? Learn about your emotions using the emotion wheel.
Cue #17: Conflict-Management Skills
Alpha males are skillful at managing conflict; they don’t avoid it, nor do they escalate it unnecessarily. Instead, they address issues head-on with a balanced, respectful approach.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is a great example and known for his “Disagree and Commit28https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/jeff-bezos-uses-disagree-commit-rule-to-overcome-an-uncomfortable-truth-about-teamwork.html” philosophy. This idea allows for open discussion and disagreement, but calls for 100% commitment once a decision is made. The concept essentially says it’s okay to have different opinions; what’s not okay is to let those differences create ongoing tension or inaction.
For an alpha male, conflict is not a chance for a fight, but a chance to get to a better solution. This involves active listening, empathizing, and perhaps most importantly, keeping the ego in check. Even in heated moments, they stay focused on finding a solution rather than proving a point.
Action Step: The next time conflict arises, adopt the “Listen-Express-Resolve” approach. First, actively listen to the other person’s point without interrupting. Then, share your perspective clearly but without confrontation. Finally, ask, “What’s a good middle ground for both of us?” This simple three-step process makes conflict resolution easier and boosts your leadership cred. Want more ideas? Check out 9 Conflict Resolution Tips to Win An Argument Like a Jedi.
Cue #18: Articulate Speech
When alpha males communicate, you can bet they’ve mastered the art of clarity in speech. No “um’s,” “uh’s,” or even awkward pauses that trail off into oblivion.
Why? Because each word they utter carries weight and is often packed with intention. Listen to public figures like Barack Obama—they rarely use filler words. Instead, they use pauses to let their words resonate. Pauses can be powerful, serving as a mental “full stop” to let the listener absorb the message.
Note: If you do stutter, no worries! Do your best and know that there are plenty of other alpha males who do stutter or have experienced it. For example, Winston Churchill, who was a wartime leader and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had a stutter. King George VI, whose struggles with stuttering were portrayed in the film “The King’s Speech,” also was a strong and capable leader despite his stutter.
Action Step: Next time you’re about to dive into a conversation or give a presentation, prepare by jotting down your key points. Then, practice speaking them clearly and concisely. Strive to eliminate filler words and embrace the power of the pause to let your words sink in. The clarity of your communication is your ticket to a more authoritative presence.
And if you really want to nail down your filler words, we got you covered: What Are Filler Words? (and What to Use Instead!)
Cue #19: Humor
A Harvard study29https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/10/laugh-your-way-to-success/ found that humor can foster trust and increase perceived leadership skills. However, this works best when the humor is positive and inclusive, rather than divisive or derogatory.
Alpha males have a knack for balancing humor so it uplifts rather than offends. Consider the humor style of former President Barack Obama. His humor tends to be insightful yet inclusive. He also uses it smartly to diffuse tension, but he’s careful not to make anyone in the room feel alienated or insulted. Here’s a funny video showcasing his dad-like humor style:
Flash Quiz: Next time you’re watching a movie or TV show, pay attention to how the alpha character uses humor. Is it inclusive or exclusive? This little observation exercise can sharpen your own humor skills.
Action Step: Before cracking that next joke, take a moment to think about its impact. Will it bring people together or create a divide? Aim for humor that fosters unity and enhances your charisma. After all, a good laugh should be a shared experience, not a divisive one. And while you’re at it, learn to brush up on your humor skills.
Cue #20: Empathy
Alpha males exhibit a deep understanding of empathy that sets them apart from the crowd.
One prime example is the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader and peace advocate. While one might not immediately associate the term “alpha male” with a religious leader, the Dalai Lama embodies the kind of strength that comes from deep empathy. He has the ability to connect with individuals on an emotional level, offering compassion and understanding while maintaining his own sense of purpose and direction.
Showing empathy doesn’t make one weak; in fact, it requires a kind of emotional intelligence and strength to be able to put oneself in another’s shoes. Alpha males use empathy as a tool for connection and leadership.
They can sense when someone is struggling or when there’s a tension in the room, and they address it without sacrificing their own position or appearing overly sentimental.
Action Step: During your next group meeting or social event, identify one person who seems uneasy or disconnected. Use a 5-minute window to engage them in conversation, focusing entirely on understanding their viewpoint.
Ask an open-ended question like, “What’s been the highlight of your week?” or “What’s the most interesting thing you’re working on right now?” Listen attentively, and respond with a comment that shows you truly heard them. Your aim is to make them feel seen and understood by the end of the conversation. Try more open-ended questions here: How to Ask Open-Ended Questions That Spark Good Conversation.
Real-Life Alpha Male Examples
Here are some real-life examples of alpha males.
Jason Mamoa: The Strength To Laugh at Yourself
While the FX in Jason Momoa’s commercial is incredible (some of us thought it was the best part of the Super Bowl!), it’s the twinkle in Momoa’s eye telling us he’s not afraid to poke fun at himself that’s super appealing.
Action Step: If you ever find the joke’s on you, use it to your advantage by laughing along with others. A secure alpha can take the teasing, and you’ll deflect any negativity or meanness by demonstrating how well you handle yourself.
Bruce Lee: Being Badass Without Bullying
Bruce Lee is considered the greatest martial artist of all time, and his hybrid style helped create mixed martial arts (MMA) today. A quiet, confident alpha, Lee changed how America viewed Asian men in films.
Action Step: Watch how Lee receives direction in this video—he isn’t controlling the situation, but he never loses self-control. He empathizes with the man he’s demonstrating and moves on without sacrificing his alpha authority. Lee’s calmness is the mark of a true alpha leader. Practice calmness like this in your daily life.
Political Leaders: Being Ready for an Alpha Standoff
Watching these two presidents meeting on the world stage is a perfect example of two alphas30https://hbr.org/2004/05/coaching-the-alpha-male wanting to be the top dog in the room. Watch them try to outdo each other’s handshake, sharing a slightly forced laugh and a flurry of tapping.
Academic researchers have studied how to make body language your superpower31https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/how-make-body-language-your-superpower. For example, nonverbal cues for alpha leaders might include standing up straight and taking up more space.
Robert Downey Jr.: How an Actual Alpha Handles a Bad Beta Situation
It’s easy to imagine Hollywood stars have a perfect life, but we all have bad days and trying experiences. In this clip, a fidgety and insecure interviewer pressures Robert Downey Jr. with some humiliating questions. Watch the alpha actor handle this mess.
Downey Jr. is cool under pressure when others would have tossed a chair. The actor is visibly annoyed, but he deflects this bad interview technique with a joke and a manly exit. Practice maturity and composure with these leadership tips—these are true skills for any alpha male’s toolkit.
As you watch these examples, you might wonder: what truly embodies an alpha male? Most alpha men share the same desirable characteristics of developing an alpha male mindset.
Misconceptions About Being an Alpha Male
When people hear “Alpha Male,” various stereotypes might jump to mind, like the guy who grunts at the gym or the loudmouth at the office party. But let’s pause for a second: being an alpha male is not about fitting into a macho box.
So let’s debunk some myths, shall we?
- They’re Always Loud and Dominant: A little insider tip—volume doesn’t equal confidence. A real alpha’s presence is enough to command attention; no megaphone needed.
- They Don’t Show Emotion: Think alpha males are like stoic, emotionless robots? Think again. They do feel, and they don’t need to bottle it up to maintain their alpha status.
- All About Physical Strength: Sure, biceps are nice, but what about emotional resilience? That’s where the real workout lies.
- Monopolize Conversations: Real alpha males don’t hog the mic. They’re secure enough to let others take the stage and offer their own insights.
- They’re Players: Contrary to the cliché, being an alpha male doesn’t mean you’re running through relationships like they’re going out of style.
- Aggressive Behavior: An alpha male isn’t synonymous with a barroom brawler. In fact, they often excel at conflict resolution without throwing punches.
- They Don’t Need Help: Newsflash—alphas don’t have all the answers. They’re not too proud to ask for help or accept constructive criticism.
- Exclusively a Male Trait: Guess what? Alpha isn’t a men-only trait. Many women also exhibit these leadership qualities, and they rock it. Check out our article on alpha females.
- Money and Status are Paramount: If you think an alpha’s worth is measured by the size of their wallet or the fanciness of their job title, think again.
- They’re Always the Leader: While many alphas hold leadership roles, the title doesn’t make the man (or woman). It’s more about how you carry yourself in everyday life.
So let’s ditch these outdated myths and focus on what truly makes an alpha male—or female. At the end of the day, it’s about balancing confidence with compassion, strength with empathy, and power with responsibility.
What is The Difference Between an Alpha Male and a Beta Male?
A compelling study32https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2022-91133-001 observed groups of men interacting in various social settings. The researchers found that those identified as “Alpha” exhibited distinct behavioral and emotional traits compared to their “Beta” counterparts. The findings showed that Alphas are not just born; they’re also made, fine-tuning a specific set of characteristics over time.
Curious to know what these traits are? Let’s break it down in a detailed comparison table below:
|Trait||Alpha Male Traits||Beta Male Traits|
|Leadership Style||Takes charge; leads by example.||More of a follower; prefers not to lead.|
|Conflict Resolution||Manages disputes calmly and effectively.||Avoids conflict or passively agrees.|
|Communication||Clear, concise, and articulate.||May be hesitant or overly verbose.|
|Emotional Expressiveness||Balanced; not afraid to show emotion in a healthy way.||Either very guarded or overly emotional.|
|Decision Making||Decisive; willing to make hard calls.||Indecisive; often seeks approval.|
|Self-Confidence||High; doesn’t need external validation.||Lower; seeks validation from others.|
|Humor||Inclusive; lifts others up.||May resort to self-deprecating or exclusionary humor.|
|Responsibility||Quick to own up to mistakes and correct them.||Likely to blame others or circumstances.|
|Social Skills||Excellent; can read the room and adapt.||Good but might not pick up on subtler social cues.|
|Attitude Towards Change||Welcomes it as a path to growth.||Resistant or anxious about change.|
Note: It’s crucial to remember that these traits aren’t set in stone—people can and do exhibit a mix of both Alpha and Beta traits depending on the situation, their mood, or even the people they are interacting with.
Plus, being a “Beta” isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a different set of traits that come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. So, don’t get caught up in the labels. Both Alphas and Betas have their unique contributions to make!
Be The Best Version of You!
It’s inspiring to read about real alpha men and to put their alpha traits to work in your life. But it’s not always easy shooting for the stars and leading the pack!
Being a confident alpha male means setting your goals and having the self-control to pursue them. When you’re the best version of yourself, you can make life better for everyone around you.
Ready for the next steps? Check out this impactful article that everyone should read to learn how to be the best version of themselves.
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