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11 Crucial Differences Between the Sigma and the Alpha Male

There are some significant differences between the sigma and the alpha male. And this is what we are going to discuss in this post.

Alphas are well-known in the social hierarchy. It’s been the most common designation for a natural leader. But recently, sigmas have emerged as the social hierarchy position to watch.

Before we go deeper into social hierarchies, a reminder: This designation isn’t only for men. However, for today’s purposes, we’ll explore the male alpha/sigma dynamic.

Even though they may appear very similar at first glance, there are at least 11 crucial differences between these two personality types. 

11 Differences Between Sigma and Alpha Males, According to a Former Therapist

At first glance, there’s not a big difference. The alpha and sigma male both attract attention and set trends. They are both natural leaders, but there are significant differences between them.  


When it comes to leadership, the alpha male craves power. He sets out to achieve, conquer, and succeed. He is happiest in a dominant position.

On the other hand, the sigma male doesn’t seek power, but he is capable of rising to the occasion if he finds himself in a leadership position.

Although they both have innate leadership skills, the alpha seeks the position while the sigma is usually sought after to fill it. 


There’s also a crucial difference between the alpha and sigma male when it comes to competition. The alpha male is competitive with everyone.

The sigma male competes only with the best version of himself. The distinction is important. The alpha male needs to win, but the sigma male only wants to improve himself and isn’t generally competitive.

In fact, the sigma male might see a competition as a fun way to motivate a team, but he won’t be overly invested in the outcome beyond his own personal performance or the performance of his team. 

Personality Type 

There’s also an important difference in the personality types of alpha males compared to sigma males. Alphas are nearly always extroverts who are happy with the attention of others and often seek it out.

Sigmas, on the other hand, are usually introverted. They prefer their own company and tend to be the “lone wolf” type. Sigma males are comfortable in social situations, but they prefer to be alone when possible. 

Work Style

You’ll likely notice another key difference between alpha and sigma males at work. The alpha often delegates responsibility to his team.

The sigma male is more likely to collaborate with team members to find solutions to problems and get a job done. The alpha often makes it clear he’s in charge and won’t always listen to people he considers inferior in social position.

The sigma male wants to hear your ideas and is happy to roll up his sleeves to help you meet your objectives. 


What’s interesting about both the alpha and sigma male is that they both are considered ambitious. However, they each define success differently.

The alpha wants to be at the very top of the food chain. He’s driven to succeed and dominate in any work environment.

The sigma is driven by personal goals. He, too, wants to be successful, but he might not equate success with the highest leadership position. Rather, he will likely see it as being the position that he’s best suited for that gives him enough work-life balance. 

They both want to succeed. They would just differ about what that means. The alpha likely sees the sigma male as failing if he doesn’t achieve the highest leadership role.

The sigma isn’t competing with anyone, let alone the alpha, and is unlikely to use other people as a measuring stick for success. 


You’ll notice that the alpha male needs a group in order to fulfill his full leadership position. He needs to be in charge and prefers to work with a team.

The sigma male prefers to work alone when possible. He’s an independent type, but he is capable of working collaboratively with a group when he needs to do so.

It’s not his preferred work style, but he’s capable of it.

The sigma is considered more independent than the alpha because he doesn’t need the group dynamic to assure himself of his place in the social hierarchy. 

Photo by Matheus Ferrero en Unsplash


While the alpha is better known than the sigma, there are some curious differences that might make you question your chosen designation.

For instance, if you’ve always identified as an alpha male, you’re likely a person who needs a lot of outside approval and validation.

If that doesn’t sound like you, it’s possible you identify more closely with the sigma who tends to be a rebel who thinks for himself.

The alpha needs approval and is more likely to follow the rules while the sigma is constantly thinking outside of them.

He doesn’t mind breaking a few rules as long as they don’t break his personal ethics.

The alphas desire for approval, validation, and continued success makes him easier to manipulate in some ways.

The sigma isn’t always considered an ideal leader by the powers that be because he tends to defy rules and direction.

While his superiors might not approve of him, the sigma male gets consistently strong approval ratings from peers and those who work under him because of his willingness to lead from a place of authenticity. 


When it comes to personal relationships, alpha males tend to look for commitment and stability. They seek the perfect partner for their ascension.

The sigma male often avoids commitment and sees relationships as infriging on his freedom.

However, that doesn’t mean the sigma male won’t ever commit. For the right person, he will be devoted for a lifetime. Until then, he’ll likely be slow to fall in love and even slower to commit. 


Another way that the sigma differs from the alpha male is in the area of communication. The alpha male tends to dominate the conversation.

He prefers to be the center of attention and is often charismatic enough to draw it.

The sigma male tends to be a great listener who shuns the spotlight. He also has the kind of charisma that attracts attention, but he’s not one to monopolize your time and attention.

In fact, he’s more likely to turn praise for his accomplishments back to friends or his team than to try to steal the show. 

In relationships, the alpha male might tend to make most of the decisions and state the strongest opinions. He’s more likely than the sigma male to try to persuade his partner to see things his way.

The sigma male tends to bring a collaborative spirit of partnership to his relationships, and he’s going to listen more to his partner than talk.

When solutions need to be found, the sigma male is capable of considering more than his own opinion and perspective. 


Another essential difference between the sigma male and alpha male is that the alpha prefers traditional values.

He likes the social hierarchy that allows him to dominate others and hold on to power. The sigma male, however, is a champion of equality.

Because he’s not power-hungry, he doesn’t care about hierarchies at all — even if he often ends up at the top of them. He sees other people as his equal, and he has no desire to assert authority over others.

Alpha males often struggle with discarding traditional patriarchal values even when they can clearly see that those values aren’t beneficial to him.

Sigma males can more easily see the value of changing societal norms to make the world a more equitable place to live. They don’t see discarding the patriarchy as giving up their power.

Instead, they see it as a way of righting past wrongs and allowing everyone an equal chance to succeed.

His egalitarian viewpoints are part of the reason he’s considered a rebel. He’s not trying to maintain the status quo when he can envision a better world. 


Another essential difference between these powerful personalities in the social hierarchy involves power and how they express it.

The alpha male can be assertive, but it can sometimes cross the line into aggression. If he doesn’t check himself, he can end up leading by intimidation.

The sigma male tends to inspire other people to follow him. His leadership style is assertive, never aggressive.

His employees often report higher levels of satisfaction than those working for an alpha type. 

A Reminder About Social Hierarchies

Social hierarchies are fascinating if you think about it. They are self-diagnosed.

There is no peer-reviewed scientific way to determine where you might fall into the hierarchy, but most people recognize themselves in the descriptions.

This recognition can help you better understand social dynamics and your place within them. 

Understanding hierarchy positions can help with self-awareness and personal growth as long as you don’t use them to define you.

You are not your societal designation. You are a human being capable of much more than you realize. 

Keep in mind that any of these characteristics can be developed. Even if you aren’t naturally assertive, you can learn the skill set.

If you tend to be competitive, you can learn more about this tendency and the ways it helps and/or hurts you.

Whether you’re an alpha or sigma, you clearly have charisma and leadership skills. How you lean into them is entirely up to you.

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Photo by Matheus Ferrero en Unsplash

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