Catching balls and catching leaders

How is it we can run and catch a ball without making complex mathematical calculations?

Well, inbuilt for most of us is a process called the gaze heuristic.

The gaze heuristic is a heuristic employed by people when trying to catch a ball. Experimental studies have shown that people do not act as though they were solving a system of differential equations that describe the forces acting on the ball while it is in the air and then run to the place at which the ball is predicted to hit the ground. Instead they fixate the ball with their eyes and move so as to keep the angle of the gaze either constant or within a certain range. Moving in such a fashion assures that the ball will hit the catcher.[1][2]

How is this relevant?

Several times people have mentioned or alluded to the basic premise leaders are born not bred. Certainly for much of my management career I have believed this.

Now I don’t.

Well not absolutely.

I think as a guide it stands, but I think it ignores two critical aspects:

Firstly even born leaders need to keep being bred – to learn new skills, to revisit things they knew before, and to keep learning what they didn’t know they needed to learn.

Secondly there are always leaders lurking who wouldn’t be classically picked as future leaders, and circumstance can mean they pull themselves through or someone or something else does.

I’ve harped on long enough in various guises about the first aspect. The second aspect though needs to be noted.

Leaders looking for, and at, leaders can’t afford to ignore those ‘not born as leaders’. They may go about things quietly or  lead with dogged determination – not the sort that barks everyone day and trumpets their glory (they are pretenders) – I mean the ones who have a belief in themselves and a self knowledge that they have plenty to learn if they wish to lead effectively. There are endless variations.

I typically observe these unheralded leaders as being either fearless or, at times, verging on what appears to be reckless ignorance. They are full of surprises.

My aim with this post is to speak out for those leaders ‘not born as leaders’, and to draw out some of your thoughts and experiences on this topic.

These ‘not born leaders’ support one of my belief’s that you can grown anybody into a pretty damn good leader.

And because ‘we’ don’t, perhaps that is why the old wives tale of born not bred has perpetuated.

References

  1. ^ “ScienceDirect – Psychology of Sport and Exercise : Fast and frugal heuristics in sports”. http://www.sciencedirect.com.
  2. ^ “Gut Feelings” (The Intelligence of the Unconscious) By Gerd Gigerenzer. Viking, 2007.

One Reply to “Catching balls and catching leaders”

  1. Dear Richard,
    Gaze heuristic is a new word for me and is very relevant to learn leadership. I agree to your point that anyone can be grown as a leader. Create environment and leave the person with lot of circumstances where decisions have to be taken, and there is no way out. When you push the person in sea, he will make effort to save his life. So, odd and adverse cicumstances are very helpful to shape leaders. I do agree that leadership is hereditary for some of the qualities but again they need to be bred. The most powerful leaders in the world are the byproduct of the most adverse and odd situations or cicumstances. They create history and make more impact. Heuristic gaze is a classic example to learn by practice. Any thing can be mastered with concentration and dogged determination. I belive that practice makes a man perfect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.