Leadership characteristics in elementary children

iStock_000021886001XSmall (1)One of the unexpected characteristics of elementary school children who exhibit social leadership qualities is that they are less likely to use accommodation as a strategy to solve conflicts with a friend, according to an Israeli study in The Journal of Genetic Psychology.

“Close friendships may require a different set of skills, perhaps somewhat independent of the skills relevant to the larger setting of a group,” write the researchers.  They note that this finding could also reflect a cultural bias. In Israel, to accommodate another child may be seen as a sign of weakness.

Among the more predictable qualities of social leadership identified in this study  are low social anxiety, secure orientation to peer, higher levels of relationship-maintenance goal, lower levels of revenge goal in close friendships and positive self-perceptions. Girls who had social leadership qualities were more likely to come from larger families.

Participants were 260 4th– and 5th-grade students (126 boys, 134 girls) from 9.5-11.5 years attending Israeli schools mostly in lower middle-class neighborhoods.

The following measures were used: The Self-Perception Profile for Children, the Social Anxiety Scale for Children-Revised and Children’s Goals and Strategies in Response to Conflicts Within a Friendship, Attachment Orientations Regarding Peers and Teacher-Child Rating Scale.

“In sum, these findings show that elementary school children who exhibited social leadership qualities had internalized a positive self-perception, felt confident in social situations, and had a secure and prosocial orientation toward peers and friends.

“These results also add important substantiation to the claim that a secure attachment can be conceived as a basis for the capacity to become a leader,” the authors write. “Also, they add to the growing literature indicating that children who have internalized a secure attachment are in a better position over a wide array of positive developmental outcomes than others.”

“Socioemotional Characteristics of Elementary School Children Identified as Exhibiting Social Leadership Qualities,” by Miri Scharf and Ofra Mayseless, The Journal of Genetic Psychology, Volume 170, Number 1, 2009, pp. 73-94.

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