Is it better to lead as confident well liked alpha type or as a quiet respectful coach who seeks feedback before making decisions?

by burgeroburger. Posted on Sep 16, 2020    94    52

I think people would say a balance of both but I often find people tend to fall into one or the other category. The alphas can be competent enough they do well and because people follow them naturally, their decisions tend to work out okay too.

On the other hand, you can have the more introverted leaders who are thoughtful and build their team around them. They surround themselves with competent people and are good at organizing their team in a way that unites people and their strengths. However, these people are not the ones people naturally look to for leadership and this does make getting people to believe in them difficult.

Any thoughts on which is better? Any books or experience that reflect on this!



Highly egotistical, high testosterone, high IQ, highly disagreeable, selfish, asshole, ruthless, alpha types do better financially. See almost ever billionaire.

You read enough biographies of high performance self made billionaires and you realize they're all the same person, plus or minus 5%.

doublejay1999 3

Load of bollocks. IQ doesn’t come into it. They are just functional sociopaths.

You do realise the books are bullshit don’t you ?


30% of US billionaire are jews, as are 30% of noble prize winners.

Ashkenazi Jews are 1 standard deviation from the mean higher in IQ, so when you compare the tails of the normal distribution of whites and jews you see that 30% of the people in the US with an IQ of 130+ are jews, even though they only make up 2% of the US population.

IQ is the single best long term predictor of success.

I know you have no clue what I'm talking about, but thats probably because you don't read, because you believe "books are bullshit".

Best of luck, you'll need it.

doublejay1999 2

Got to admit, I didn’t see that coming.



jayknow05 1

Are you managing people? Check out

As the leader of a company I would actually avoid coaching, facilitate your employees development and make resources available. Ultimately people know what's best for themselves and you don't have time to teach them.

It is much much better to have open lines of communication and make people feel comfortable escalating issues, so Alpha is out too.

Respectful though, that one works.

Banjo_Bandito 1


JelmerMcGee 3

Oh hell, there is no such thing as an "alpha type." Lead with your personality and adjust as needed.

dopesidemo 2

I think it’s hard to choose what kind, but one thing is to communicate and speak the truth in a way that you can move forward.

mysterpoeleece1 2

I think a Jean-Luc Picard-type leadership style is the best in any business situation, because it balances authority and informed decision-making influenced by available expertise.

A Picard-type leader is open to suggestions, but does not allow his authority to be challenged once a decision has been made. If a subordinate still disagrees, he makes sure he or she conveys this disagreement with the captain in private, not in front of the crew.

He is kind whenever possible, but does not hesitate to be stern the second a subordinate is out of line. If he is insecure in a decision that has been made, he does not display this insecurity in front of the crew, but rather consults with a single, trusted officer in private.

Watch some TNG if you want to see what it looks like in action!

Rightbackere 2

Junk science. Edited *
There is no such thing.
You are borrowing concepts from a study of wolves in which the author debunked.

Look it at this way.

Its better to lead when you know, let others when you don't and they know, take a risk with best info if you all don't know.

Leading is situational. Definitely not about whether a wolf is well liked by a pack because it asks for feedback about the hunt.

Satan_and_Communism 2

You should certainly be able to be confident while also being respectful and seeking feedback.

Making it all up yourself will always be less successful than taking feedback in from everyone (qualified) that you can.

imo, the mark of a good leader is the ability to take in information and knowledge from people who likely have more than you in their own fields, boil it down to the important parts, and use it to make the best decision possible.

jdogdfw 2

Your either one or the other . Consistency and passion is what people respect.


If you’re the leader of a community in any sense, you should always be receptive to the people around you. Being assertive is good but don’t become a tiny tyrant.

wildbortami 2

Both are good.

NeedsMustTravel 2

My natural personality is more Alpha and commanding (more so than I even realized until a recent review at work). When I was in a previous leadership position I made a point of trying to be egalitarian and I didn’t feel it worked well. If I had to go back I think I’d take more of my natural approach which is just make decisions and give direction with confidence. Maybe it’d work, maybe not.

loveGodspeed 2

Both. Read the energy of who you’re dealing with and calibrate your energy to what the individual player needs.

tomowudi 2

Leadership is simply certainty by proxy. Leaders are clear about what they want and why. Those that follow are not. That's why they follow, because the discomfort of uncertainty can be avoided if they can focus on the illusion of certainty they get by following a leader's vision.

The confidence in the leader replaces the confidence they lack.

So the best form of leadership is to simply know what you want, how you are going to get it, and how to describe that to someone well enough to do their job of securing a single rung on the ladder they are helping you build.

Solo_Cup_Martini 2

Another good book is “FYI - For Your Improvement”. It goes through all areas an individual can improve upon (based on their personality), and how to actually capitalize on them.

Solo_Cup_Martini 2

I’d recommend a mixture of both - being confident in your own decisions, but even more importantly confident in your team’s decisions. Back in my corporate management days, we all had to read this book “The Servant” - it’s all about the theory of servant leadership, which is a great model to follow. However, I’m sure your type of leadership depends on the industry

looking4euterpe 2

It depends on the type of decision you're facing. If it's within your wheelhouse of expertise, (and everyone around you knows it), full steam ahead. If it's in an area where some of your staff has more experience/education, it's better to consult - even if you already know which direction you're going to go.

Like most things in business, one solution will not fit all circumstances.

mortgageletdown 2

When I was younger I always respected the "walk softly & carry a big stick" kind of leaders so that's the path I've naturally followed.

agcoustic 2

I think it really depends on the company and its culture. I know a ton of entrepreneurs that run companies more top down. They are very intense and require a team that can handle that without burnout. They are decisive and generally achieve success. Their downfall usually comes if they are toxic or micromanage too much which creates churn. Typically these guys want team players rather than additional leaders and regularly "upgrade" positions rather than coach them there.

On the other side, there are plenty of CEOs who are soft touch and motivate through inspiration rather than a hammer. Typically these guys coach well, value relationships etc. They tend to operate more collaboratively and should typically hire more leadership players. Their downfall is typically lack of accountability, decisiveness etc. I've also seen them hire more for who they like rather than who is the best fit.

In my opinion I believe a blend is strongest. I used to be more on the latter end of the spectrum albeit I'm pretty aggressive when making decisions. Once we got bigger though I started realizing that accountability was lacking in our team. Because I hated difficult conversations, I was not having them at the level that I should be. I was also not adequately asking for feedback either. The lack of clarity and decisiveness with people decisions was hurting us. Since then I've done a lot of personal work and have grown to be a lot more forward with employees. Essentially I still coach but with clear goals as the focus.

During covid I've seen lot more issues with employee motivation etc. Being to forceful during this time has had some bad effects. It's a delicate balance right now.

mishmoigon2 2

Both are necessary at different points. Don't separate them or look at it dualistically. Just adapt to the circumstance and be the type of leader people need. Sometimes they need an extrovert to boss them around, sometimes they need to be left alone to work for themselves. Find the middle path!

B3lieveM3 2

Always be yourself.

Hunterbunter 2

Imagine you were going to play a part in a local theatre, and those were the two roles you could choose between. Which one would you feel the most confident acting? Which role would you be the most believable in?

I think this question is about realizing that there is no one-size-fits-all human. Some people prefer confident leaders, other's prefer smart ones, and you'll attract people based on what you present. If you pretend to be someone you're not, you'll not act the way one of those people would under duress, and you'd be found out to be a fraud among people who need the opposite at that moment.

If you'd play both parts equally well no matter what you feel inside, then congratulations, you've hit the jackpot. Be the role the person in front of you needs at that moment.

tomwirts 2

DISC is one of the better personality evaluation programs. I have all of my employees take it and use it adjust how I work with them.

Myers Briggs has lots of useful information, too.

You have a natural style - be that. Be genuine and people are more likely to want to work with you.

voodoochannel 2

I have tried all different styles. Not being an a hole. Leading by example doing things that other will not do. 90 percent of people took the piss. Unfortunately I have only held onto a few people that work with me instead of treating me as an enemy.

I know, poor me.... but I am just a guy who started a business. Not some evil dictator.

einhverfr 3

I think leaders have to figure out how to do both. You will make better decisions by building teams of competent people who can reason through things together. But eventually someone needs to be the face of the decision.

JaySayMayday 3

Most modern leadership analysis points to a strategic leadership style which blends visionary leadership and managerial leadership along with employing the right reaction to any given situation. Here's an article on the matter.

Geminii27 3

Be the leader the people - or person - in front of you needs you to be.

Finbe9 3

What suits your personality

holdthebabyy 4

Just be you. It's so transparent when someone tries to portray xyz persona, their energy is weak, it's disingenuous and it just doesn't work.

Silhouette 1

While there is a lot of truth in this, good leadership is a skill and like any other skill you can get better at it with personal experience and through study. There is a lot to be said for "being you" but also adapting who "you" are as you learn how to do things better.

One of the most important skills any leader has to develop is learning when to be consultative and when to be decisive, because you will need elements of both to be most successful. It's nice when the people who work for you like you, but your effectiveness as a leader will be determined more by whether they respect and trust you. Those people will often be more willing to go along with something that they don't like if they can see that it's being done for valid reasons and if they feel that they were treated fairly even though the final decision didn't go the way they hoped. That happens when you have good communication in both directions at the appropriate times.

121Alvarado 4

I like the quiet surprisingly bad ass types. Those are the ones I truly respect. And they are easier to work with and things tend to go better long term.

irvmtb 8

In corporate America it’s probably harder to get ahead for the quiet types. Western culture or maybe company cultures seem to prefer confidence and “alpha” types. But in a small business setting, both approaches can probably be successful so whatever fits better!

RedneckPaycheck 21

I find the term alpha to be dated and inadequate, I tend to trust people who demonstrate that they really know what they are doing through action, that really has nothing to do with being "alpha" in any sense of the word that I know. Business acumen is sometimes acquired through sheer intelligence but usually its acquired through hard work. Usually I can tell if someone is actually knowledgeable vs. bullshitting their way through something.

Consulting people who are knowledgeable when you dont know how to do something is a separate question. If you are trying to run a business and it makes financial sense to do so, then you should be doing it all the time.

Sophisticated_Sloth 3

I think you’re confusing what OP means when they say ‘alpha’ with the stereotypical “alpha male” definition.

The way I’m reading OPs post he means “alpha” in the literal sense of the word. A leader who is the sole decision maker and where the “pack” i.e. the team, has to follow his decisions and actions every time.

Accountantnotbot 1

I take it as a type A personality.

Accountantnotbot 4

Most impact is

  • managing a small team be quiet and respectful, let people do their jobs.

  • communicating with outside parties and up the chain of command, an alpha personality is better. Bosses value this more, and view it as “executive presence”.
longjaso 6

A good leader knows when to be one or the other. There is no single solution for every situation.

mwl675 7

The book, Good to Great by Jim Collins Answers this question well.

I highly recommend it.

Solo_Cup_Martini 3

That’s a great one! I just recommended The Servant, another fave

shayanzafar 8

As long as you don't treat the people under you like shit and you look out for them. They will look out for you and be happier and productive. People want to be a apart of a team they are accepted in.

MrSpuddies 84

Imo the best leaders flip between the two 50/50 depending on the situation

tspencerb 3


BigSlowTarget 9

I agree. Examples:

  • We do not break the law here. Alpha
  • We take and use good ideas no matter where they come from. Coach
  • No one screws with my customers, employees or safety. Alpha
  • We all work together so the company wins, we don't undercut each other. Coach

    You can also mix them. "No accidents this year and we all share a bonus. Everybody looks for and stops anything unsafe. Somebody deliberately breaks a safety rule and they are out, no exceptions." (I'm manufacturing so safety is how you keep all your fingers).
Realbigwingboy 45

Marshall Goldsmith is the granddaddy of executive coaching. He popularized the saying “What got you here won’t get you there”. Leaders need to be decisive AND collaborative, hold people accountable AND coach them without judgment. The best leaders don’t just double down on their strengths but exemplify complementary approaches.

I’m a more collaborative, introverted type by nature and have learned a LOT about being decisive (yet gently communicating).

mb3838 3

This is the best and most succinct summary of what I’ve come to realize. Be aware of whether you want to be the leader that people need. It can be exhausting. Clear expectations or else and no hall passes. Staff work or gtfo

xmarketladyx 85

Play on your natural strengths. My cousin was always in sports, super competitive, take charge, and it was no surprise that she was a top salesperson and now regional manager and not even 40. She's a natural, "tough love, just buck up and do it!" type.

My boss is more patient, sweet, always says please and thank you. He can get a temper at times, but is very slow to do so. They're both admired and successful with 2 different approaches.

Of course she can have her sweet moments, and he can be fiery. I guess just gauge which one you tend to be. Find the team that works with you. He and I clicked in the interview because I was fresh out of college, already worried about starting my, "big girl job", and he wasn't so boisterous and trying too hard to be intimidating. You sound like him, and I suggest you embrace it for the most part.

JelmerMcGee 10

This is the best answer.