Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New theory about leadership has important lessons for the modern world

13.06.2006
Mark van Vugt, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent, has challenged traditional theories of leadership by announcing that ‘leadership is in our genes’.

Professor van Vugt’s theory, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, states that: leadership – whether it be political, business, sports or otherwise – is the product of human evolutionary history in which, for several million years, humans lived and worked together in small groups in order to survive (much like our primate cousins, the chimpanzee); and leadership helped our ancestors cope with the pressures of group life and enabled them to more successfully defend their group against other groups. Leadership thus played a crucial role in the success of humans, and is now deeply embedded in our genes; so much so that the human brain possesses a hardwired leadership ‘prototype’, a fixed idea of how a leader should behave and what they should look like, that is innate and difficult to change.

Professor van Vugt also argues that for millions of years there was no formal leadership in human groups. He says, ‘Essentially, it was the best hunter or the fiercest warrior that emerged as leader. In present times, we still evaluate leaders in that way. The most admired leaders are the ones that help us defeat an enemy group – leaders such as Winston Churchill – or unite a country like Elizabeth I or Nelson Mandela.

‘Furthermore, living for millions of years in small groups with close personal contacts between leaders and followers has ensured that what we are looking for in leadership is an intimate personal touch. Ideally we would like our leaders to know us personally and take an active interest in our lives. This, of course, is increasingly difficult in modern society in which leaders govern millions of people. Yet successful leaders are still the ones that make people feel special – charismatic leaders like Jesus or Gandhi are historical examples.’

He also finds that leaders who try to dominate followers are particularly disliked. In ancestral times, overbearing and selfish leaders were simply ignored, ridiculed or sometimes even killed. This egalitarian ethos is still visible in modern society in which political leaders often become the target of ridicule or hatred.

Professor van Vugt’s new evolutionary theory of leadership also helps to explain why humans have deeply rooted ‘follower’ instincts, and why we often choose the wrong kind of leaders. ‘The way we select our leaders now is very different from the way leaders emerged among early humans,’ he says. ‘Because we tend to ignore our evolutionary heritage, the rate of leadership failure is extremely high –for example, in the business world it is estimated to be around 65 percent.’

Gary Hughes | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kent.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>