Leadership – 30 percent genetic, 70 percent learnt


The definition of a leader is: someone with a vision, who inspires passion and motivation. Someone who motivates their people, and who ensures their team has the support and tools to achieve their goals.

These are big goals to live up to!

Studies have shown that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned. These findings suggest that most people are not born natural leaders.

We asked iHR Australia’s Senior HR Consultant and Facilitator, Alan Colvin, to explain what makes a good leader and most importantly how to learn to become an effective leader.

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is someone who has the ‘team first’ mentality, meaning they’re not in it for themselves. They are inclusive, they listen, they learn and they do what they say they will do.

A good leader is ultimately accountable for their results and behaviours, and for the results and behaviours of their team.

They have a direction or clear way forward, which gives their team a sense of purpose. They take performance management seriously – rewarding and recognising good performance, and acknowledging and coaching poor performance. They build productive relationships above, sideways and below their role.

What are some key steps future leaders can take to prepare themselves to lead?

  1. Learn from their current and past leaders – both good and bad. Form a view of how you will lead your team based on what you have seen work and not work.
  2. Complete a course like Stepping Up, so the basics of leadership are understood. Leadership frameworks and models are often the basis for success.
  3. Read articles, books, LinkedIn posts on leadership and work out what resonates for you.
  4. Develop your own self-awareness about your strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Get a mentor who is a good leader who you can learn from.

What sort of supports can future leaders put in place to help them to learn to lead effectively?

  • Be a lifelong learner
  • Ask for feedback from your team
  • Find a mentor
  • Understand that mistakes will happen and it is about improvement and not making the same mistake twice
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Get into a consistent rhythm that will imbue fairness and consistency

Even if you’re not one of the 30% of born leaders, many of the skills to be an effective leader can be learnt. But it’s important to remember that it takes courage, commitment and ongoing learning to evolve into becoming a good leader. And patience, humility, honesty and a constant refinement of your skills to aspire to become a great leader.

iHR Australia’s Workplace Leadership and Management Training programs for team leaders, managers and supervisors will develop the participants approach to both leadership and management. Find out more: https://ihraustralia.com/workplace-training/leadership-management/