Informal Leadership Learning: Formative Childhood Development (3)

Formative Childhood Development 3Leadership is more likely to be displayed by ‘school-boys’ in which the parental environment grants high levels of responsibility and independence (Hoffman et al., 1960), often illustrated by the eldest sibling given responsibility for younger siblings.

A family environment which is risk adverse and which restricts opportunities to experiment commensurate with a child’s maturity, can restrict development and may be exhibited in adults as carelessness, overconfidence and limited social skills that would have otherwise been learnt through experimenting in social situations (Bass, 1990). Jones, quoting Freud, sums up the relational role model thus:

A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.

(1953: 5)

The influence of parents as role models and the environmental experiences shaping a child’s development appear to provide interesting clues to the early development of leaders’ attitudes and skills within social situations. Certainly the leadership development process may begin at a very early age and the pattern and ability to learn from both relationships and developmental experiences is forged at a time when the effects cannot be easily traced to the causes.

What is perhaps most striking is the role of parents in socially constructing implicit theories of leadership in terms of traits, values, skills and attitudes that reflect broad cultural, as well as idiosyncratic, family oriented features.

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