The Science of Leadership: What Can It Teach Us?

The Science of Leadership: What Can It Teach Us?

We all know that strong leadership is paramount to organizational success. All great companies have great leaders to guide the organization and its people. However, despite all of the studies and information available about leadership best practices, there still remains a large disconnect between what leaders should do and what they actually do.

This is perhaps a reason why 82% of people don’t trust their boss and more than 50% of people quit their job because of their manager.

So, are great leaders born or bred?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic from Harvard Business Review provides some insight into the current issues leaders have:

“Part of the problem is that many widely held beliefs about leadership are incongruent with the scientific evidence. As Mark Twain allegedly noted, ‘It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.’ For example, it is quite common for people to believe that leadership is largely dependent on the situation, that it’s hard to predict whether someone will be a good (or bad) leader, and that any person can be a leader. In reality, some people have a much higher probability of becoming leaders, regardless of the context, and this probability can be precisely quantified with robust psychological tools.”

What Science Tells Us About Leadership

According to the data and research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, there is a lot we can learn and already know about leadership:

  • Men tend to be more transactional and women tend to be more transformational.
  • Leadership is 30%-60% heritable – this is the case because character traits common to leadership personalities are inherited.
  • Leadership style is dependent upon personality. “Ambitious, thick-skinned leaders tend to be more entrepreneurial, so they are focused on growth and innovation. Curious, sociable, and sensitive leaders tend to be more charismatic,” says Chamorro-Premuzic.
  • Leadership training and development is vital to help leaders improve  – Whether you subscribe to the belief that people are born leaders or you believe it is learned, there is always room to grow and improve.
  • Leadership is predictable – and from a young age. “Most of the commonly used indicators to gauge leadership potential — educational achievement, emotional intelligence, ambition, and IQ — can be predicted from a very early age, so it would be naïve to treat them as more malleable,” says Chamorro-Premuzic.

As commonly noted, it is the implementation of this information that will help your organization’s leaders continue to grow and evolve.

More Insights About Organizational Leadership

Learn more about the impact that leadership has on an organization and gain valuable leadership tips by reading the following blog posts:

What Makes a Great CEO?

The Social CEO

Founder vs CEO: The Key to Running a Successful Startup