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Leadership: Who we are and what we’ve become

Research continues to prove and disprove leadership skills as either inherent or acquired.

Research continues to prove and disprove leadership skills as either inherent or acquired.

Professionals in psychology, philosophy, sociology and behavioral management have been studying, writing about and reporting on this topic for years – with little consensus of opinion.

If leadership skills are inherent, does that mean we’ll be fighting an uphill battle every time we train team members who did not aggressively push their way through the birth canal to daylight?

On the other hand, if leadership skills are acquired, does it mean that every one of our team members is a candidate for leadership development?

If we consider the inherent and acquired discussion valuable, should we let these perspectives influence our decisions regarding who and how we hire, and who and how we train?

Or, at the very least, should we be open to using this information to change the kinds of questions we ask our team members during one-on-one conversations and use to interview key candidates?

If the knowledge about leadership skills being inherent or learned doesn’t feel all that relevant to you as it relates to the employees you value as part of your team – or candidates you might be hiring – consider instead asking about their first work experience.

This exercise is a great way to uncover what seeds were planted early on and the type of mindset that grew out of the experience. Their perspectives will be full of clues and insights into the type of employee they are now, and may be, long into the future.

For a research project, I surveyed a few dozen people in a variety of capacities in manufacturing, distribution and service. They were a mix of business owners, business leaders, managers and supervisors.

The questions were simple:

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