Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leaders, Followers, and Chance

Just a little post here. (Thought I had disappeared didn't you.)
ADHD takes a lot to live with sometimes even as you get older. In fact the AD part is worse and the memory slows at the same time.
Jumping from one thought and investigation to another yet not forgetting any of my “great ideas”, is a crazy maker. Yet I cannot always remember the why of the "great ideas".
Now add in “life gets in the way” and you have me.
Which brings me to these thoughts.
While reading a short article on genetics, leaders, and followers recently, I read what I think is most of the truth of it all.
Basically it is this: genetics, early environment, and chance can make all the difference. I think especially for leaders chance is important. Chance may not be the right word. Perhaps I should say an occurrence that allows or forces one to lead. For some the society in which they live can be an obstruction to leadership. Gender, and or youth for example in some societies can force a “born” leader to become a follower. Remember, for instance, the old sayings about the “woman behind the man”. (best example I can think of).
Note I wrote “most of the truth”.
I guess you can lump many other influences in the above words, genetics, early environment, and chance. I was thinking of birth order or being an only child.
Anyway, it was a pretty good article and I have lost the reference. However, this is very similar:
Link here

So here ya go a little post for what it is worth.

Hope your “holidays” are good and happy.


  1. Kanna;

    very interesting subject that I have thought a lot about lately with my job and responsibilities on that job. I am often the leader, but on this job I found it difficult to lead. I don't know if it is my style or a lack confidence, but I didn't have the role except that the workers were told that I was in charge or that I was the boss. But, I think being the leader can't just be a label or assignment. As the article that you linked to said; the followers have to follow or, in other words they choose the leader, and I think that they will often reject someone that is pushed on them by management or other authorities.

    I have been trying to find a written account of the old story I was told in high school history class about the conquistador that yelled charge, but no one followed.. I can't seem to find it. The story sticks out in my mind whenever I think of an ineffective leader that has no followers.

  2. Thomas,
    Thanks for the comment.
    I had not heard the story you mention.
    I will have to check around to see if someone around here knows of it.

    Yes, the workers being told can be the "occurrence" that produces some leaders.

    Thanks again and happy holidays to you and yours.

  3. Kanna:

    Life is even more complicated than you present it. It isn't a choice between NATURE vs NURTURE. There is a discovery in the last half of the 20th century that environmental conditions can in fact change the genes. It doesn't change the A,C,G,and T nucleotides, but it can change the regulation of gene expression.

    Here's the Wikipedia article on epigenetics. But more interestingly, here's an example of how epigenetics affected the children and the children of the children who suffered the 1944 famine when the Allied attempt to free Netherlands failed and was pushed back by the Battle of the Bulge. From the Wikipedia article on the Dutch famine:

    Moreover, the children of the women who were pregnant during the famine were smaller, as expected. However, surprisingly, when these children grew up and had children those children were also smaller than average.

    This data suggested that the famine experienced by the mothers caused some kind of epigenetic changes that were passed down to the next generation.

    The discovery of the cause of Coeliac disease may also be partly attributed to the Dutch famine. With wheat in very short supply there was an improvement of a children's ward of Coeliac patients. Stories tell of the first precious supplies of bread being given specifically to the (no longer) sick children, prompting an immediate relapse. Thus in the 1940s the Dutch paediatrician Dr. Willem Dicke was able to corroborate his previously researched hypothesis that wheat intake was aggravating Coeliac disease. Later Dicke went on to prove his theory.

    Audrey Hepburn spent her childhood in the Netherlands during the famine. She suffered from anemia, respiratory illnesses, and edema as a result. Also, her clinical depression later in life has been attributed to malnutrition.

    So evolution isn't a simple black or white choice between NATURE vs NURTURE. The best summary of the new understanding is "nature via nurture". See this Wikipedia article.

  4. Thanks for the comments, RY.
    I believe I can include all this in Nature.
    If you prefer we can say environment in all its meanings.
    nurture, to me, refers to anything to do with human care or lack thereof.