Leaders are Made, Not Born

A new study supports the idea that parents can raise their kids to be leaders.

Allowing children to moderately break the rules sometimes might not be a bad idea. Children are most likely to take on leadership positions if they are allowed by their parents to challenge their boundaries, according to the study by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

The research, based on data from a long-term study of male twins in Minnesota, found that individuals who challenge the status quo or boundaries of authority earlier in life might learn a lot, if their parents help them understand why the actions were problematic and how to achieve goals without breaking the rules. Basically, some rule-breaking gives children the opportunity to learn why rules are in place and how to achieve goals without breaking those rules.

Those children who test the norms (but don’t go too far) might assume leadership roles in life.

It has been established that leadership qualities are both genetic and environmental, the study noted. The researchers said that the latest research adds more weight to the idea that leaders are raised more than they are born, since behavioral genetics has shown that innate factors account for only 30% of who will end up in leadership positions and people’s leadership styles.

The research concluded that allowing children to face challenges, when paired with supportive parenting, might be a good idea: “This line of thinking supports the notion that parents have a responsibility to not always make things clear and easy for children. Pushing them towards the boundaries of what they must consider right versus wrong, may prepare them for more difficult dilemmas they will no doubt have to confront later on in adulthood.”

The study report is available here.