Today, 8th of March, is the day to talk about the importance of diversity and gender equality! We are thrilled that it has become top of the agenda for many organisations, large or small, and there are enough studies out there that demonstrate that diversity creates wellbeing for employees and profitability for businesses. As Mercè and I put it in our book Alphas and Omegas: “Diversity fuels creativity and this is an indispensable element for innovation. The fact that people with different perspectives, profiles and experiences collaborate makes generating truly innovative solutions possible”.
Now that we are (hopefully) convinced that diversity is important, we need to look at the HOW aspect. From our point of view, it’s not a question of how many men and women you have at the table, it’s about recognising what type of qualities they bring to the table. These qualities we can be categorised as masculine and feminine. However, these two words can have different connotations for everyone, depending on how our mental framework is created, which is influenced by your culture and society. So, we use Alpha to describe those attributes that are traditionally assigned as masculine, and Omega to describe those qualities that are traditionally assigned as feminine.
The term Alpha is used metaphorically to refer to a person with dominant, or leadership qualities. In general, this word has negative connotations, as it is used to describe authoritarian, controlling and arrogant people, or men. In its positive sense, an Alpha person is characterised by their courage and willingness to take risks. Healthily ambitious and competitive, they tend to have high self- esteem and confidence in themselves. Pragmatic and results- focused, they happily take on their responsibilities. They are genuine and often a source of inspiration for the people around them, given that their leadership skills are innate.
The Omega individual is incorrectly placed at the lowest point of any hierarchical structure, principally because of their lack of social presence. While an Alpha grows within a group setting, the Omega prefers being out of the spotlight and taking a back seat. They are essential to balance out the overwhelming nature of an Alpha. An Omega does not obsess over reaching a leadership role, but still strengthens the group thanks to their collaborative nature, their flexibility or their great listening skills. Ultimately, they are effective leaders in their own right, without seeking out leadership per se.
To create truly diverse teams, we need to focus on the following 2 aspects. One, look for people that demonstrate a good balance between Alpha and Omega traits. Two, given that we all tend to have more of Alpha or more of Omega, bring together a team that complements each other.
Ana Botin, Executive Chair at Banco Santander, reflects on this concept and says the following in her recent article: “In the workplace, feminine, and masculine traits, like elsewhere in life, complement each other. All being equal, mixed teams outperform less diverse groups…”
For more on this subject, we invite you to read Alphas & Omegas book available at all major book stores in Spain or on Amazon. It’s written in English and Spanish. Also, follow this blog, more articles are coming soon.