Review: Beta – Quiet Girls Can Run The World by Rebecca Holman


3 stars


What does success look like? 5AM conference calls and late nights in the office? Winning every argument in the office and always getting your own way? What does a successful woman look like? The shoulder-pad wearing Alpha? The dogmatist who rules with an iron fist?

The reality is far more nuanced. Yet women are still pigeonholed as Alpha boss, or Beta secretary or assistant. When 47% of the workforce are reduced to two unhelpful stereotypes, how can you embrace your inner Beta and be a success on your own terms?

It’s an important question because the world is changing, fast. Successful companies need people who can lead with emotional intelligence, be flexible to new ideas and adapt their plans when required, leaving their ego at the door. The Beta woman’s time is now.

Beta celebrates the collaborators, the pragmatists, and the people who believe that being nice works and getting your own way isn’t always the most important thing. It is a call-to-arms that explores the unsung workforce of Beta women who are being great bosses, great leaders and are still living their own lives: having relationships, making time for friends, having families. Beta inspires confidence and will help you in the workplace.

Fully researched and rich with interviews, anecdotes and case studies, Beta is a smart and entertaining read that really explores the role of women in the workplace today.

I’m not normally a great reader of non-fiction, particularly career-guide stuff but I decided to give this a go. I’m close to embarking on an exciting new career path so I’m trying to do my homework, it seemed only right to find out how introverted Beta ladies can get a step up.

After reading this book, I’m no longer convinced that I’m Beta by the definition this author is using – I’m not always happy to defer to others when it comes to decision making, I just can be bothered shouting the loudest because nobody ever hears the scruffy short one in the corner, no matter how loud she voices her ideas.

The book starts of strong, defining the difference between the Alpha and Beta women in the workplace and their different approaches. I really enjoyed the anecdotes that the author gathered from what I guess are friends, current and former colleagues. I don’t remember any anecdotes from women over 40 though which is a pity because any woman with 20+ years of workplace experience is going to have some excellent advice on how to hold her own.

I have to say that this book did lose its direction by the end, it strayed from ‘How to kick ass as a Beta’ to ‘Is that even possible?’ which was a bit disconcerting. The overall view to me seemed that it’s only possible if you’ve got a few Alpha tendencies in the mix to keep you balanced out.

I don’t think this kind of book is for me, really, so take that into account as you read this review and my rating of the book. What I got from this book was that being middle class, white, well educated, unbelievably lucky and working in a female only office will get you far in the world of work – this isn’t a criticism at all, it’s just that the odds of ticking all the boxes the author does in order to relate to her advice is pretty slim.

Though I don’t feel like this book had anything particularly applicable to me, it has encouraged me to really think about how to work to my strengths and get my own agenda/messages across without having to shout. If not a book with all the answers, it’s definitely a conversation starter and a step in the right direction for finding balance between personality types in the workplace.

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