Many people think being a good leader comes down to genetics, that some people are just inherently more effective and able leaders than others. That preconception is true to a certain degree – it is 30 percent accurate, to be precise.
Fast Company recently reported that leadership comes to 30 percent genetics – specific traits such as height, sound of voice, physical appearance and other factors make it easier for people to influence others and command the respect of their coworkers. However, that is where it ends. Research shows that other people can still be tremendous leaders, even if the genetic markers don't favor them, by doubling down on the other 70 percent.
The 70 percent difference
Citing a report from researchers at the University of Illinois, Fast Company noted the other 70 percent is comprised mainly of readiness, willingness and ability. These factors are influenced by everything from life experiences to mechanical training and can be improved upon through hard work and practice.
"It's a three-legged stool," David Rosch, one of the professors involved with the study, told the news source. "Students first become ready to learn about being a leader; then they become willing to learn the skills necessary to practice leadership; and finally they're able to lead because they have the skills and the motivation to do it. You can't really move on to the other legs of the stool until you've achieved a certain amount of this readiness."
At the end of the day, becoming a successful leader depends on belief in one's self more than all else. There are some people who avoid being project leaders or taking management positions simply because they do not have what it takes to assume those roles. The fact of the matter, however, is that they simply do not have the confidence and belief in themselves to support the journey to become an effective leader.
Those who believe in their leadership capabilities become willing to lead, and the rest of the process follows from there. This inner confidence is absolutely necessary – people must realize that, as the research shows, there is no such thing as a natural-born leader. Genetics only get people so far – anyone can be a capable leader as long as they are willing to put forth the time and effort to learn how to manage people successfully.
It all starts with confidence, though – if someone believes they can never be a good leader, they will not be. Not until they devote the appropriate time and effort to perfecting their craft will they actually become an effective leader.
Learning to be an effective leader
Although raw life experiences can be an effective way to learn vital leadership skills, businesses have other options as well to kickstart that development. For example, leadership training courses and classes can help people develop the skills necessary to effectively manage others and build influence, regardless of whether they are a company executive or a small team leader.