Leonardo Da Vinci “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence."
What makes a leader? How do we choose our leaders and are we choosing them in the best way?
Humanity has a tendency to coalesce into groups of leaders and followers, but who decides who the leaders are, how and why?
We know that humans choose certain candidates, often for seemingly arbitrary reasons. We opt for candidates who are taller, we can pick out pictures of CEOs by the shape of their jawline, and men are more likely to gravitate towards leadership roles, even when pitted against women who are better qualified. Some of this may be explained by our evolutionary history and our subconscious expectations of what a leader looks, but it is not necessarily that simple.
In modern hunter-gatherer societies, and we assume much of our evolutionary history, humans lived in small bands of around 50-150 related individuals, with a mostly egalitarian outlook and leaders who were chosen by the masses, not the elite. Some companies have been trialling these systems with success. At Gore-Tex, the CEO is chosen by the entire working body, not senior management, and has seen extremely high rates of worker retention. Toyota and Virgin have deliberately restructured their businesses into smaller groups of 50-150 employees, with managers given far more decision-making capacity for their individual units. As employees tend to be happier in smaller businesses, this can surely only increase employee satisfaction.
With surveys showing that the corporate failure rate of senior managers in the US is as high as 50 percent, and 60-70 per cent of employees say the most stressful part of their job is dealing with their immediate line manager, it is clear that leadership could be due an overhaul.
So, what if you think you have what it takes to be a leader? There are many ways you can signal your potential. Aside from wearing heels or sculpting your jawline, studies have shown we are more likely to follow individuals who:
Now you’ve signalled your leadership potential, and know how to keep your employees happy, what could you achieve with your newly exalted position?
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