Want to be the boss? How to signal your leadership potential

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A woman addresses a meeting

Natural-born leader

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We can tell who’s likely to become a leader before we’re even aware of it, assessing a person’s behaviour and body language without realising that we’re doing it.

When a group of people who don’t know each other meet for the first time, leaders and followers naturally emerge – it helps us solve many social challenges. We use a variety of signals, such as charismatic behaviour and vocal cues, to infer leadership qualities. But Fabiola Gerpott at Vrije University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and her team wondered whether such signals might also trigger more automatic changes in who we pay attention to.

To investigate, they videotaped meetings of real project teams who had never previously met over a period of seven weeks. At the end of this period, independent mentors rated each team member on whether they had emerged as a leader or

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