Lead or follow: What sets leaders apart?
What sets leaders apart is the certainty they need to feel about the course of action to follow when the welfare of others is an issue.
- Researchers at the University of Zurich analyzed the leadership/delegate decision making dichotomy.
- Company personnel are constantly faced with decisions that not only affect themselves but also the rest of the staff.
- Researchers based their study on responsiblity aversion, the unwillingness to make decisions that affect others.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to distinguish between decisions that affected an individual personally, and decisions that affected the whole group.
- The hypothesis was that taking on responsibility for others centered around liking being in control and fearing less about potential losses and risks.
Leadership is about taking responsibility for a decision that affects the group, even when feeling less certain about the best course of action.
“Because this framework highlights the change in the amount of certainty required to make a decision, and not the individual’s general tendency for assuming control, it can account for many different leadership types. These can include authoritarian leaders who make most decisions themselves, and egalitarian leaders who frequently seek a group consensus.” - Micah Edelson, lead author.