Are we born leaders? – BBC News

Are we born leaders? – BBC News

Marissa Mayer
The power of oneBeing emotionally resilient, empathic and socially skilled are obvious advantages in many careers (as is being more of an extrovert in professions like sales, teaching or journalism). In this context, the research suggests having a sibling who you get along with may provide the perfect training ground. So where does that leave only children like me or Brendan Hufford, an SEO director at design agency Clique Studios? Hufford says the experience of being an only child influenced him deeply. “I've noticed that I seek a lot of outside validation, ” he says. “Without siblings to validate my daily experiences growing up, I looked to others to provide input on my work and daily events.” He says that in his professional career, this has really helped him engage with colleagues and build a rapport quickly. “However, as I moved into leadership positions, the number of colleagues that I could share openly with was reduced, leading to long periods of ambivalence regarding my ability and effectiveness as a leader.” In terms of the research literature in this area, some of it is rather disconcerting: for instance a study that compared the personality traits and behavioural tendencies of people born ....


“As a natural questioner, I've already thought through concepts very deeply before presenting them and, as an only child, I never had any competing interests other than convincing my parents of something. Compromise and communication was minimised to only what most affected me.” Another recent study revealed related results in terms of the possible social consequences of being an only child – participants who were only children scored lower for “agreeableness” (they were less friendly and trusting). However, there was a silver lining: the only children in the study performed better in a test of their creativity, a finding that the researchers put down to their having received greater attention from their parents and/or the fact their parents expected more of them. (I would add that perhaps only children also benefit from more time spent alone with their imagination.) That last result is tentative for now. But it suggests that, while I (and other only children) might wonder what it would have been like to have brothers or sisters to chat and play with, perhaps the quiet I enjoyed at home helped lay the foundation for becoming a writer. .

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