What Is The Childhood Of A Leader Personality Type Like?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated December 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may have heard the phrase "born leader" in the past. Meeting someone with leadership qualities or having them yourself may lead you to wonder how a leader is formed and whether it has anything to do with childhood and how someone is raised. Understanding these areas may also help parents raise their children with leadership qualities. Although everyone is different, there may be a few commonalities in the early lives of popular leaders.

iStock
Foster Strong Leadership Skills With Professional Guidance

Is Leadership Genetic?

Philosophers and psychologists often debate whether leadership and other personality qualities are genetic or learned over time. 

As is true for many aspects of the human personality, leadership may be both genetic and learned.

Research has found that some genetic factors may come into play when shaping a leader, specifically on the RS4950 gene. This gene is believed to be linked to higher occupancy rates in leadership roles, meaning more people with RS4950 are considered leaders than those who do not have the gene.

However, even if you don't have the gene, you may be or become a leader. Being genetically prone to leadership doesn't necessarily equal having the skills/will/motivation to implement these traits. The research showcases that leadership may come more naturally to some individuals than others, impacting behavior and experiences during childhood and beyond. However, childhood experiences, personality, and other factors may also impact this area.

iStock

The Childhood Experiences Of A Leader

How a boy or girl is raised by their mother, father, and society as a whole, may impact how they act as adults. For instance, a leader's parents may be more authoritative or have higher expectations than other parents. 

Another major factor that can impact leadership skills is education. A child's time in the classroom may or may not include exposure to activities that boost leadership skills, like participating in role-taking activities that encourage children to analyze scenarios from different perspectives.

There isn't much research that points to a specific archetype for the childhood of a leader. There is some loosely based evidence that some leaders may come from environments where stating opinions, leading decision-making, and asking questions were encouraged. Others may not. 

According to studies, the most critical factor in determining whether a leader is effective is their ability to relate to and connect with others. Children who demonstrate these skills or have the opportunity to learn them may be more likely to become leaders in the future. 

How To Encourage Children To Lead

Though there is no one path that a child must necessarily take to become a leader, there are steps that can be taken to make behaviors connected to leadership more frequent and more empowering. If you're looking to parent your child in a way that may help encourage them to become a leader, the following tips can help you get started.

Encourage Taking Chances 

Let your child take chances when appropriate and safe. It can be natural to want to prevent your children from taking risks, but a lack of problem-solving skills can lead to struggles when a child grows up. Your children may benefit from learning to recognize risks and consequences without your guidance, knowing you are there to support them if they fail.   

Allow Children To Make Choices 

Leaders often make difficult choices and take the lead in social situations. If a child has never had the opportunity to make a choice with their family or have a voice in their conversations, they might feel more comfortable not making decisions as an adult.  

Encourage Confidence 

Many leaders may experience a heightened sense of confidence and the ability to take pride in their achievements. You may foster these feelings in your child by encouraging them to recognize when they've accomplished a goal, creating a safe space to speak their mind, and doing your best to empathize with their struggles as they age.

Reduce Unrealistic Expectations 

Unrealistically high expectations may make a child feel unmotivated, unappreciated, and unseen. Although a child may be intelligent, unique, or capable, they are a child, and children also have mental health needs. Pressure to act a certain way, make certain decisions, earn specific grades, or succeed in an extracurricular activity can be stressful for many children. 

If the way you treat your child changes depending on their performance in a specific area, consider reducing your expectations and showing love, kindness, and support regardless of their actions. Studies show that children of parents with an authoritarian parenting style are more likely to experience behavioral challenges and stress. 

Be A Role Model 

Modeling leadership behaviors can encourage your child to act the same. Studies show that young children often mimic the behaviors and ways of speaking of their parents and that the words their parents say can heavily influence them. Considering this fact when interacting with your child can help you model positive behaviors as a leader mirrors the behavior they want to impart on others. You also may read a story or show a movie or film where strong leaders are present and discuss their traits with your child. 

Teach Your Child Social Skills 

Try to teach your child healthy social skills and how to empathize with others from a young age. Learning to resolve conflict, work with others, and communicate healthily may be the difference that sets your child apart from others when developing their personality. 

Anyone Can Become A Leader

Regardless of the childhood someone had, many people can become leaders, and the qualities of a leader can be gained throughout life. Many famous leaders and celebrities had challenging pasts and have experienced adverse events, and many people cite resiliency as a reason for their growth. Below are a few steps for becoming a leader as an adult: 

  • Reduce self-doubt
  • Focus on confidence 
  • Keep your promises
  • Follow through on commitments 
  • Ask for feedback, and take it into consideration
  • Offer support
  • Practice empathy 
  • Admit when you make an error 
  • Lead to help others and make a change 
  • Make decisions when asked
Getty/PeopleImages
Foster Strong Leadership Skills With Professional Guidance

Counseling Options 

Whether you want to become a better leader or ensure that your child is prepared to become a leader, obstacles may arise. Mental health challenges can make it seem difficult to obtain confidence, make decisions, or lead others. In addition, self-doubt, fear, and self-criticism can make focusing on leadership development a challenge.  

Working with a licensed mental health professional can be beneficial for improving leadership qualities. Whether you're diagnosed with a mental illness or want counseling as you make changes, therapy is an option available to you. You can also consider online therapy if you face barriers to receiving treatment in your area. 

Studies show that online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy for managing the symptoms of various mental health conditions. In addition, it is often more cost-effective, convenient, and flexible. If you're interested in trying internet-based therapy, you can sign up with a platform like BetterHelp and get matched with a therapist within 48 hours of your initial payment, with no waitlist. 

Takeaway

Leadership is a quality that individuals may be born with, learn over time, or develop as adults. If you want to learn more about becoming a leader, helping your child grow their confidence, or any other concerns, consider reaching out to a therapist for guidance.

Explore how childhood influences behavior

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started