Does running your mouth really make you a better leader?

If you want to be a leader start talking.

At least that’s the conclusion drawn from a new study that has been deemed, the babble hypothesis.

While controlling for other factors including intelligence, personality experience and background on specific tasks researchers have found that none of these factors influence the selection of a leader nearly so much as simply the amount of time that a person spends jabbering.

Here’s the kicker – the content didn’t even have to be good.

Like zero quality control.

The clearest factor that determined whether or not others would vote for a person to become their leader was the sheer amount of time that person took up talking.

Well, that…and gender.

Neil MacLaren, lead author of the study published in The Leadership Quarterly  said that in their data, men receive on average one full extra vote for being the leader just for being a man.


So, what’s the big takeaway? Should we all just be talking over one another to demonstrate our leadership abilities?

I think the real learning here has more to do with followership.

Our brains were shaped by evolutionary forces that helped us to survive in ancient environments.  When we look at other biological drivers of leadership, we see traits emerge like boldness, extraversion and selfish motivations that apparently helped leaders of our past – living in a resource-scarce, dangerous environment- maintain power and control that ultimately benefitted their genes.

But are these still the same traits in leaders we want to subconsciously follow today?

I believe that as long as we live in fear, we’ll continue to turn toward these characteristics of leaders. We’ll long for the conviction and certainty of leaders that talk continuously to convince their followers (and perhaps themselves) that they are on the correct path. The confidence of these leaders is attractive as our mirror neurons react and reflect back to them a certainty, a clear path forward that puts everyone at ease —but followers…beware!

 What if as an alternative to the security our brains seek in these leaders, we could find comfort in the ambiguity instead. It’s my belief that by fearing less, we can lead (and follow) with more agility.  Being wrong, adapting as we listen to new emerging trends and needs, feels like a much safer path in this rapidly changing world.

But I’ve babbled enough for now.

I want to know what you think!

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