The Myth of the Alpha CEO: How Ankush Gera Is Redefining What It Means To Be a Leader

Image commercially licensed from: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-standing-near-the-stairs-MYbhN8KaaEc
Image commercially licensed from: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-standing-near-the-stairs-MYbhN8KaaEc

When Ankush Gera co-founded his first business, there were many things he was uncertain about. Like most founders in his position, he did his best to learn everything there was to know about funding, scaling, and hiring top talent. Gera quickly found that while consensus was rare on this topic, most experts could agree on something: the need for an alpha mindset.

“I remember reading all these books about ruthless CEOs who dominated industries through sheer aggression by embracing this whole alpha wolf concept, where the biggest, boldest alpha leads the corporate pack,” recalls Gera. “It seemed to be the only topic on which most people could agree on. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more skeptical I grew.”

Originating in animal ethology, the idea of “alpha” has become increasingly common in popular culture ever since Dr. David Mech introduced the concepts of “alpha male” and “alpha female”. Dr. Mech has since found these concepts to be misguided and actively tried to retract his earlier research, noting alpha wolves don’t actually exist in natural wolf packs. Gera channeled his confidence and made bold moves, but went against the myth of the alpha CEO, and set himself on a different path.

“It was clear to me from an early stage that truly empowering teams to deliver at scale required focusing on understanding people at deeper personal levels” explains Gera. “This is why I’ve always led my companies and teams with love.  While it may sound unconventional or even laughable to some, I’ve done it well.”

The results of Gera’s leadership style are hard to argue with as not only has he founded two extremely successful startups over the two decades but also managed to lead them to successful acquisitions. Monsoon, the digital agency that he co-founded, was acquired by Capital One in 2015, while Junglee, which he founded in 2012, grew to over 100 million users and was acquired by the Flutter Group in 2021. Kunai, the software agency for large financial institutions which he co-founded at the time Monsoon was acquired,  has also grown to a powerhouse in the banking industry.

In a world in which 90% of startups fail, a 100% rate as a founder is already impressive for a serial investor. Gera, however, has also managed to help dozens of startup founders succeed. As an angel investor, Gera has invested in more than 150 deals between startups and venture funds, providing founders and executives with strategic advice, resources, and access to his network.

“Success has certainly opened many doors and taught me a ton, but it hasn’t changed my perspective or leadership values,” reflects Gera. “I find it amusing to see high-power CEOs and late stage VCs who preach passionately about work-life balance, compassionate leadership, and ‘going above and beyond’. They’re usually the ones who made fortunes grinding teams including themselves into the ground through 80-hour weeks and constant pressure.”

Now that Gera has an opportunity to help other entrepreneurs succeed, he has eyes set on founders who share his values. Where most investors look for an idea and its potential to disrupt the market, Gera first looks at the founders and their willingness to be bold and fearless and still be able to lead with love. To him, an idea’s potential is only as good as the team and leader behind it, a theory supported by his own trajectory.

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