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Are you a ‘natural’ leader?

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

People are always looking for “natural” leaders. Think of Mozart, who wrote his first symphony at age 8.

While the debate rages on about whether leaders are born or made, new evidence shows that people can build their brains as they would a muscle.

Here are both sides of the argument:
  1. A fixed mind-set means you believe intelligence is bestowed at birth. Your success depends on your ability to dole out examples of your great brainpower, like Dorothy Parker one-liners. The operating assumption is that brilliant people don’t need to exert themselves.

  2. A growth mind-set means you believe smarts can be learned. The whole operation at West Point, for example, is geared toward developing leaders in 47 grueling months.
Here’s the latest research:

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University researcher, wanted to find out if mindsets can be changed. Together with two colleagues from Stanford and Columbia, she ran an experiment on junior high school students. In the course of eight weeks, they taught concepts like these:
  • Your brain is like a muscle that can be built up.

  • You’re like a baby who starts out knowing nothing and then learns.

  • Everything is hard before it gets easy, so don’t give up.
After the session, the researchers tested to see if the students’ math grades improved. They did, by a lot. The students in the study group significantly outperformed their peers in math, many improving dramatically, raising their grades from Ds to Bs.

So here’s the question: Can leadership be learned? We think so.

—Adapted from “Leadership Is a Muscle,” Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Fast Company.

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