What does leadership potential look like?

Research suggests the implicit criteria we use to identify leaders on first impressions change after we've spent time with them.

by Lauren Brown

Implicit leadership theory suggests that we unconsciously form a picture in our minds of what a leader looks, sounds and acts like. Traditionally, this picture will have been of an alpha male - dominant, assertive, commanding. (The mind turns to a prominent COVID patient ‘heroically’ standing on a balcony without their mask a few weeks back.)

However, the criteria we use to identify people as leaders aren’t as straightforward as previously thought, recent research published in The Leadership Journal has suggested.

Tel Aviv University and University of Haifa researchers found that implicit expectations and assumptions about the personal characteristics, traits and qualities inherent in a leader weren’t static, but changed over time.

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