I was recently reading about the false dichotomy of the alpha/beta male and his place in our society. As usual when I come across this topic, I can't help but wonder what people are thinking. Human beings transcend nature. It truly is what separates us from the animals. So, though the idea that male primal instincts to be either alpha or beta may be rooted in ethology, it has no place in our modern society.
Alpha is just another one of those silly made up terms to try to put a positive spin on being a dick. There's a difference between someone who is a take charge individual and someone who just likes attention or craves being above others. There's a movement happening today that is trying to promote the alpha male status as something one should aspire to -- but the truth is, being alpha leads to a lot of the ills of our society such as bigotry and severe economic inequality.
Check Out This Interesting Experiment by an "Alpha Expert".
Using the situation in that video as an example, a take charge individual would be someone who steps into that situation and leads the group because they believe in the mission or goal and actually know how to get there. An alpha, would try to take charge even when it's clear they are obviously not the most qualified to be in charge. At that point you're not a leader, you're a dick.
Also if you think about it, the whole alpha persona quite often backfires. You can't be an alpha if the people around you decide you're not. See besides dick, there's another more appropriate name for alphas, and it's called being a douche. The label of douche is awarded to overly confident, obnoxious, attention seeking people who fail at dominating the people around them.
The truth is anyone can be the "alpha" in any situation. Douches aren't special people who always win and being an alpha is provably not something you're born with. Example, watch what you would call your average or "beta" person in an office setting after they get promoted. You'll often times see them transform into an alpha and you'll hear people call them things like "natural leader". They walk taller, dominate meetings, etc. The people that challenge them are almost always the people who don't mind losing their job or are in a higher position. It has nothing to do with them being alpha or not. It all comes down to who has the least to lose.
Only in the animal kingdom does the wreckless pursuit of being on top make you anything but a douche.