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Why Being the Beta Chief Is Better Than Being the Alpha Chief One expert proposes that the most effective leaders demonstrate authority through collaboration.

By Jason Ankeny

This story appears in the March 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you've sat through one staff meeting, you've sat through them all. You know the drill: The extroverts monopolize the dialogue, tuning out the input of others, while the introverts go to the opposite extreme, suppressing their own ideas in favor of allowing other voices to dominate the discourse. Then there are the ambiverts, who inhabit the sweet spot between the two sides, instinctively knowing when to speak up and when to shut up—an essential skill in today's increasingly collaborative business world.

That model is explored in Dana Ardi's book The Fall of the Alphas: The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence—and Lead, which contends that business leaders must dump traditional vertical models of hierarchy and control (what she dubs "alpha culture") in favor of a more horizontal, inclusive approach.

"There are mega-trends that are changing the way we think about organizing, like the emergence of technology, globalization and social media. Businesses can't allow one individual to make all the decisions—the complexity of today's organizations means that ideas come from everywhere," says Ardi, founder of New York-based Corporate Anthropology Advisors, which offers recruitment and organizational consulting services to startups, investors and enterprise clients. "We have to organize ourselves into what I call "beta culture,' which I compare to an orchestra. You have virtuosos in all areas, and you organize around tasks and what needs to be done, with many voices and a conductor who brings them all together."