President Trump seems to prefer hiring men with alpha-dog personalities that, more or less, mirror his own — White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer. Yet in one 10-day period, all three were gone.
Politics aside, this raises the question: Can people with alpha-dog personalities work together?
Current chief of staff Gen. John Kelly, who asked the president to remove Scaramucci from office, probably thinks not, but management and etiquette experts say that power-drivers can get along and even accomplish amazing things.
Management-training expert and author Daniel Bobinski says that, even though people with dominant personalities are typically competitive, direct and self-reliant, “if they respect that about each other and are trying to accomplish the same things, they can get a lot done.”
Given that one alpha dog is usually working for the other, the trick is that “the leader needs to be very clear about his vision and mission, and the two should believe that they’ll each be in a better position to deliver if they work together,” he says.
Bobinski adds that it is important for onlookers to realize that when dominant personalities spar, “it doesn’t mean they are not getting along. To them, it’s part of the fun. It’s how they operate.”
In fact, that might be why President Trump didn’t immediately fire Scaramucci, even though the 83 percent of the population who aren’t alpha dogs were appalled by the Mooch’s behavior.
This begs another question: How do people who are low-key in nature get along with an alpha dog?
To succeed when an alpha dog is your boss, “focus on results and minimize the chitchat,” says Bobinski. And if you don’t understand or agree with what’s being asked of you, “don’t be confrontational — ask a question,” he says.
Elaine Swann, business etiquette expert and author of “Let Crazy Be Crazy: Then Politely Get What You Want, Get Your Point Across, and Gently Put Rude People in Their Place” (WS Publishing, out now) says that it can be challenging for two dominant personalities to partner. If they want a shot at success, they must each know, and agree on what their roles are.
“They should not cross over into each other’s territory,” she says, while adding that this expectation is not very realistic. And when one alpha dog, almost inevitably, sets foot onto the other’s turf, the offended alpha will…