Personality & Leadership Discussion Peer Response
Learning Goal: I’m working on a psychology discussion question and need a sample draft to help me learn.
Initial Post: In reading for this week, you might have noticed that all three articles are quite dated, ranging from 1978 to 2003. Although human nature does not change its fundamental principles and general rules of development quickly (in Adlerian conversations, we call human nature a climate vs. weather), the social environment and political landscape change rapidly, especially in the 21st century, creating unique challenges and new opportunities. Among changes are the emergence of a new generational classification (gen Z, millennials, etc.), a wave of social revolutions in Europe, increased political tensions, intersectionality, and many other unique social processes.
In this discussion, please discuss personality variables (including gender, birth order, the age gap between siblings, blended families, type of parental unit and parental modeling, and any others) as impacting leadership potential and leadership style of a specific public leader, from an Adlerian perspective. In your peer responses, please find an opportunity to validate (vs. praise) your classmates’ efforts and to take their discussion to a new level by asking questions, building on (vs. replacing) their efforts. You will also have to respond to your professor’s inquiries.
Peer 1: Sable Heimer (She/Her/Hers)
It is not shocking to note that among the birth orders that both an only child and oldest children are the ones most representative in politician positions. As noted by the stereotypical traits for only children (greatest need for achievement, most likely to attend college, most selfish out of the birth orders, and lowest need for affiliation) and oldest children (highest rates of academic success, high achievers, most inclined to be leaders, and are overrepresented in learned populations) are very similar (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012, p 13). It is also not too abnormal to see how Adler thought that middle children’s stereotypical traits (greatest feeling of not belonging, and a tendency to do better in team settings as well as excelling in areas not tried by their older sibling) and youngest children’s traits (most rebellious, more artistic and less scientific, and the most empathetic among the birth orders) tend to keep them from thriving in such politician positions (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012, p 14), whereas only and older children typically thrive (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012, p 8). Yet one study shows that only children “were also overrepresented among [surveyed politicians], whereas middleborn children were underrepresented. The data suggest that this birth-order effect is weaker among younger generations and is more pronounced among women” (Andeweg, 2003, p 1). Meaning that while this might be true in the general male and female populations of all birth orders, it is proving less true with newer generations, and consecutively untrue for the female-only surveyed representatives.
One of the reasons that first-born children are more likely to succeed as politicians are based on their sibling and parental interactions. When the firstborn becomes a sibling the new need for affection from the parents can be seen as traumatic for them. Alder would state that “this ‘dethronement’ may also constitute the kind of deprivation that leads to a Lasswellian need to seek power as compensation” (Andeweg, 2003, p 4). As such, they begin to “seek power as compensation” (Andeweg, 2003, p 4). Additionally, older children tend to thrive more in these settings due to “the capabilities [being] developed because firstborn children often assume a tutoring role toward younger brothers and sisters” (Andeweg, 2003, p 4). Furthermore, youngest children my traditionally be denied any leadership positions growing up within family settings, leading to them feeling uncomfortable later in life in any leadership roles (such as politicians)- with the exception of being “rebels or champions of other underdogs” (Andeweg, 2003, p 4).
Andeweg, R. B., & Berg, S.B. (2003). Linking birth order to political Leadership: The impact of parents or sibling interaction? (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) Political Psychology, 24(3), 605-623.
Eckstein, D. (1978). Leadership, popularity, and birth order in women (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.). Journal of Individual Psychology, 34(1), 63-67.
Eckstein, D., & Kaufman, J. A. (2012). The Role of Birth Order in Personality: An Enduring Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Adler. Journal of Individual Psychology, 68(1), 60–74.
Kern, R. M., & Peluso, P. R. (1999). Using Individual Psychology concepts to compare family systems processes and organizational behavior (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.). Family Journal, 7(3), 236-244.
Peer 2: Hanaa El Moghrabi (She/Her)
Personality variables do and can affect leadership styles and potentials. Human nature has remained unchanged, but social aspects in an ever-increasing digital world are evolving. Early and uncontrollable aspects of our lives can dictate the type of leader we can be or the general potential of becoming a leader. Of course, in general, we can make substantial changes to improve our overall leadership abilities and potential. In the following discussion, I will dissect personality variables as it pertains to Adlerian perspectives and theories. Generally, we all want to be heard, acknowledged, and understood. I believe this is why democratic relationships in a workplace setting and family structure works more effectively than autocratic or laissez-faire.
Andeweg and Berg’s (2003) research pointed that, “First-born children—those with one or more younger siblings—…to be overrepresented among U.S. presidents, British and Australian prime ministers, leaders of countries in all parts of the world, members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. state governors….” (p. 606). However, it is more likely that the overrepresentation of first-borns in political positions was due to climate statuses, such as the first-born son likely has more privilege in the family than the other children. This could also bolster their likelihood in succeeding in a field with prominence. It is, at least according to Andeweg and Berg (2003), difficult to know if there is a strong enough correlation between birth order and prominent roles or vocations, or if there are other factors at play. Admittedly, the first-born tends to be more serious, driven, responsible, and a teacher for the younger siblings.
However, if we introduce socioeconomic status to the conversation, the correlation is not as clear. Opportunity and privilege are two factors that can — but not always — determine the level of success someone can achieve. If we look at the pinnacle of success as becoming a prominent and well-respected politician, we must look at trends. For example, most politicians are older White males who typically hail from well-to-do families. There is variance, especially within the last 25 years, but typically obtaining a higher education and creating connections also appears to assist in succeeding in this domain. Generally, as Andeweg and Berg (2003) found in their study, birth order pertains to obtaining political office is statistically significant. However, it remains critical that we view it through a nuanced lens, as I pointed to earlier.
In terms of gender, Andeweg and Berg (2003) posited that male first-born sons are typically more doted on than other children. “The simplest line of reasoning suggests that parents favor their first-born child. In patriarchal societies, culture demands that they do so with their first-born son” (p. 607). Therefore, parent-child interactions are immensely critical in personality development. This principle can transfer over to sibling interactions wherein “first-born children…have more politically relevant capabilities and to seek power as compensation” (p. 608). If we follow this model, we can deduce that last-born children do not wield as much power and are not expected to be in charge or have as much responsibility as the first-born child (Andewed & Berg, 2003). This point of arguable contention was echoed by Eckstein (1978): “Another significant finding was that youngest children were under chosen for either leadership or popularity roles” (p. 65). First-borns are favorable in terms of leadership and popularity. However, in terms of gender, the resources could not find an exact relationship between gender. Nevertheless, women are far less likely to be represented in leadership positions if we quickly have a look at any CEO list. Indeed, if we look at gender and leadership roles through a social cognitive lens, only 10% of Canadian youth imagined a woman in a position of leadership, such as a CEO (Bennardo, 2019).