What Does It Mean To Be A Leader?
Leadership is a trait demonstrated by some people who have the inherent tendency to influence people and lead them. It is a complex trait influenced by many factors. As per the famous saying by Bennis and Nanus in 1985 – “Leadership seems to be the marshaling of skills processed by a majority but used by a minority. But, it is something that can be learned by anyone, taught by everyone, and denied to no one.”
Leadership can also be called a ‘process’ by which an individual influences a group of people to achieve a common goal in a more coherent way. Leadership potential is the ability of an individual to take up a leadership role or duty.
Leadership as a phenomenon has been around since the time the beginning of time. Whenever people needed to come together to either solve a problem or make a decision, their ideas, thoughts, and suggestions had to be channeled and coordinated to reach common ground.
What started as simple leadership way back in prehistoric times has evolved into more complex leadership systems and principles. However, what we learn from evolution is that people were born to lead.
There are genetic and non-genetic factors that determine who leads the pack and who follows the lead.
Qualities of a True Leader
There are more than one ways to identify a good, natural-born leader who was born to lead. Some qualities of a true leader are:
- High levels of energy and stamina
- Tolerance for stress
- High self-confidence
- Adaptability and agility
- Good communicator
It is common to hear the phrase ‘born to lead,’ and research seems to support this. Genetics is said to play a role in determining if one is born to be a leader.
The CHRNB3 Gene
One gene and the very first one that was studied in this regard was the CHRNB3 gene. This gene contains instructions for the production of Neuronal acetylcholine receptor subunit beta-3 protein. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, or nAChRs, respond to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
rs4950 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CHRNB3 gene. It is associated with the tendency to occupy a leadership role. Individuals with two rs4950 A alleles are proportionally more likely to be in a leadership role compared to those with one or two G alleles.
While leadership potential is influenced by your genes, there are other factors that help people learn and develop leadership traits. Most of these factors come into play very early on in an individual’s life, such as at home and school.
Environment early in life
Individuals who have lived with encouraging families or families that showcase leadership in their homes tend to raise leaders.
Education and hobbies
Individuals who are well-read, well-informed, and mentored by teachers in school have a higher chance of developing leadership qualities and potential.
Individuals who are exposed to problem-solving and taking well-informed decisions early in life tend to develop leadership abilities as they grow up.
Recommendations To Develop and Improve Your Leadership Potential
Here are a few ways to develop your leadership skills.
- Practice discipline in your professional and personal life by sticking to deadlines and appointments and maintaining a good work-life balance.
- Take up more responsibility and step out of your comfort zone.
- Listen and be ready to follow your teammates.
- Have a bird’s eye view of the situation while keeping track of the nitty-gritty of the projects that you are managing.
- Inspire and encourage others to rise and grow.
- Always be open to learning.
- Empower others and make them independent.
- Face and resolve conflicts.
- Be a good listener.
- Leadership, a person’s ability to lead, is a skill you can learn and cultivate, but there are a lucky few who are born as natural leaders.
- Genes are said to play an integral role in influencing leadership potential in an individual.
- The CHRNB3 gene, which produced acetylcholine receptors, has been studied to influence the leadership potential of an individual.
- Other non-genetic factors like an encouraging environment, family, education, etc., also help an individual develop leadership traits.
- Adopting a few habits like consistent learning, being more responsible, stepping out of your comfort zone, and empowering others can help improve your leadership skills.
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