This post is not for those who seek to improve on their already-established effectiveness as managers. This post is for readers who struggle with the basics of being a boss; specifically, struggling to secure respect from their male and female subordinates. Part I of “Be the Boss” focuses on the first step a struggling manager needs to take, which is a change in attitude. Subsequent posts will get into specific management techniques of establishing trust and authority among your subordinates.
A reader writes:
I’ve been a Gamma for most of my adult life, and now I am a boss. In my last job I had a real hard time keeping my female subordinates under control, even though I was starting to learn Game theory because the concepts were new to me. I’m still not very good at mastering Alpha behavior yet and I’m trying to implement it at a rate that I can maintain because it’s alien to me. Can you direct me to examples of Gamma behavior in bosses to help me identify what to avoid?
A quick explanation of jargon. “Gamma” refers to a man who is, for a variety of reasons, low on the socio-sexual scale as outlined on Vox Day’s “Alpha Game” page HERE. Additional discussion about gammas picks up at Alpha Game earlier this year in a continuing series by his guest-blogger Delta Man. If you are interested, look for posts tagged “gamma” or “delta.” “Alpha” refers to apex-male position on the socio-sexual hierarchy.
First, let’s take a step back for a moment. If you observe interpersonal dynamics across a variety of classes, professions, and social milieus, you will come across ordinary men, some of whom may be intelligent — sometimes brilliant — or otherwise interesting. Others may be unassuming and not good conversationalists or not come across as having ever been an honors student. Some will be nice, pleasant guys, others will be brusque or gruff. But those men will have one quality in common: while they are not exceptional as leaders, they are liked and respected by others. They are called deltas.
A delta can be an engineer who can lead a technical team. He can be a Marine in a “band of brothers” combat unit. He can be a middle manager who keeps a department running, a competent foreman or a mechanic, a successful musician, a waiter who does his job well. Most men who are trusted, whose judgment is respected by other men, and who are satisfied with their place in this world are deltas. The difference between deltas and the minority of men who are higher on Vox’s socio-sexual scale (alphas, sigmas, betas) is that deltas are not gifted with a dominant personality or extraordinary sexual charisma.
And now, on to gammas. The dividing line between a delta and a gamma is that other men respect deltas but not gammas. Likewise, women are comfortable around deltas (sometimes too comfortable) but are uneasy around gammas.
So what the hell is this gamma? My shorthand for them is “alpha ambition without the alpha goods.” They are restless, depressive, introspective, sarcastic, snarky, visibly bitter, passive-aggressive, cowardly in confrontation, and deluded about their rightful social status. You will find gammas among condescending nerds as well as in high places like law and politics. If you get involved in left wing/progressive activism — especially feminist politics — most men you’ll come across are going to be gammas.
And now back to the reader. This is part of my response to him:
Key is, don’t try to be an alpha outside of the dating arena. Aim for delta.
I gotta say my first thoughts about being Delta is “that is so not me”. I could settle for Beta (in context of the Vox hierarchy, not the binary descriptor), but “Delta” seems like “sheeple” to me by what I understand of the concept. To be successful in my position I have to at least pass myself off as “Beta” in the hierarchy.
This is textbook gamma. The reader, as he admits, lacks the basic ability to function as a manager and despite that, considers himself already ahead of the average man who can do the job of managing subordinates at least in a rudimentary way. He want to leapfrog good for great. He wants to “settle” for beta, something that is completely out of reach for him at the present time. That’s like an impatient beginner guitar student leapfrogging basic scales and chords lessons on an acoustic guitar for shredding it on an electric — it’s gonna sound like shit.
Deltas are my subordinates. I’m uncomfortable and weak in my authority and I have to come to terms with it
First part of that comment: nobody at the office walks around with a “delta” insignia on his collar. What managers and subordinates alike walk around with, is respect they get from others up and down the corporate hierarchy. Or lack of said respect. Second part of that comment makes no sense. It’s saying “here are my questions about a problem I am trying to fix but I am just gonna come to terms with the fact that I won’t fix it.” Flippancy is another gamma tell. Flippancy, like inappropriate self-deprecating humor, is a façade a scared boy hides behind.
To the reader who sent those comments: I respect your willingness to appraise yourself realistically. I mean it. I want this blog to be helpful to you, to me, and to other readers across the range of subjects I cover. You are way ahead of most gammas, who will never take that step of looking at yourself with frankness and instead will continue to live in the fantasy of being secret kings. They will spend the rest of their lives delusional and unhappy with the cards they were dealt and frustrated by every social interaction they engage in.
So here is my advice at the high level that this post covers.
- One: let go of any pretense of being above the sheeple because there is no such thing as sheeple. The arrogant dork who made my coffee last Wednesday thinks I am sheeple. Enough said.
- Two: see if you can get your employer to pay for leadership coaching sessions. You can frame it in terms of seeking to improve your presentation/sales interview skills (if that is part of your job). They are expensive but with the right coach, you can tell him in a one-on-one pre-consultation exactly what you’re looking for in terms of coaching. The good ones get it. I’ve seen them bring the best out of dynamic naturals as well as from insecure, nervous hopefuls in a single group session.
- Three: If your work won’t pay for it and you can afford it, pay for it yourself.
- Four: if you are dead-set on leapfrogging over deltas, this may work out if you are sufficiently Machiavellian. But that’s not a vibe I am picking up from you and I do not recommend it. But go ahead, consider it, and either reject it as a ridiculous fantasy or devote every ounce of your commitment to becoming something so out of reach from where you are now, and accept the failure if you don’t make it.
- Five: as Vox Day counsels, aim for delta. As a movie character once said, don’t try to be a great man; just be a man.
In an upcoming post we’ll get into specifics of being the boss.
Part II of this series is HERE.