Social Dominance: What Newborn Babies Are Teaching Us About Leadership
I get to teach theÂ subject of leadershipÂ onÂ a regular basis.Â IÂ often start the session by asking the audience to call out their answers to the following question - “What is the definition ofÂ leadership?”Â Almost every time, one of the first two answers is “Someone who is in charge.”Â Interesting answer.Â
Do you know a leader when you see one?Â It’s getting harder and harder.Â They come in all shapes and sizes, different nationalities, male and female, young and old, slacks and jeans, shaven and unshaven, leather shoes and flip-flops, educated andÂ average everyday individuals.Â LeadershipÂ is more than just aÂ position.Â Â
We all look for somethingÂ different in who weÂ allow to influence us, even BABIES!Â Â A recent study on Social Dominance by Lotte Thomsen at Harvard University reveals thatÂ there may not beÂ much difference between adults and newborns in how they identify leadership.Â TheÂ research shows that by watching animated battles between various sizes of blocks,Â childrenÂ between 11 and 16 months old spot trends of dominance!Â They spotÂ ”who isÂ in charge”.Â
Here’s what weÂ learned that newbornsÂ know about leadership:
- Who’s The Boss! – Babies understand that size matters.Â ThatÂ bigger, stronger, faster objects often defeat smaller ones.Â Even babies know who’s the boss.
- AnomaliesÂ - Babies understand that some things just don’t fit.Â They defy logic.Â When a smallerÂ block would defeat a larger one in their simulated exercises, newborns stared at or ponderedÂ these objects 67% longer.Â Scientists view this as an indicatorÂ thatÂ even babies knowÂ when somethingÂ does not make sense.
Thomsen says “Infants come into the world with certain basic concepts even before they have language â€“ they are prepared to understand physics and causality.Â Â What we are suggesting is that a basic understanding of social relationships is also one of the building blocks of the mind.”
In addition,Â Â Sara Cordes who studies infant cognition at Boston College in New York sayÂ ”the data are quite good. Infants seem to be aware of social dominance much earlier than we thought.”Â Â Â To read more about this study, click here.
While babiesÂ tend to be mesmerized byÂ social dominance,Â IÂ tend to be mesmerized by the following when looking forÂ quality leadership:
- A Biblical Worldview
- Relational Intelligence
- High Capacity
So what do you look for in leadership?Â Is it similar to an infant – “Someone in charge” – or is it a more mature,Â complex set of qualities?
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