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Nature, Nurture, and Naples: Are we born Alpha, or become it?

Last September, I wandered the streets of Naples, Italy. In a courtyard, I watched a group of kids playing.

One scene caught my eye: a small kid didn't hesitate to stand up to a bigger one, pushing back with striking fearlessness.

It got me thinking – are some of us just born ready to take charge? Or do we become Alpha because of circumstances and environment?

(Watch the video)

Turns out, it's not just one or the other.

  • Genes Matter: Just like you inherit your eye color, a part of you is wired from the start. Studies on twins show that if one twin has strong leadership traits, the other likely will, too. It's in the DNA.

  • Upbringing Counts: Your early years shape you more than you think. The values taught at home, the schoolyard scraps, and the first time you led a project all add up to your leadership style.

  • Cultural Influences: The society we grow up in leaves its mark. Just think about how different cultures view leadership. Some value boldness, while others respect quiet strength. Where do you fit in?

Now, take a moment.

Reflect on your own past and culture. Are there patterns in your behavior that might not serve you well anymore, especially in our team or organization?

Imagine the shift if you stepped into a new way of leading that's healthier for you and more inspiring for those around you. Here are some ideas:

  • Be the influencer: Think of that Napolitano kid. If you were to build his future, knowing he would shape it according to his experiences around you, what would you demonstrate as a leader? How are you inspiring your team to be exceptionally strong and empathic leaders?

  • Seek Feedback – Be Vulnerable: Sometimes, vulnerability is the best way to demonstrate your power. How often do you apologize, ask for help, or share difficult moments? Authentic conversations can be a game-changer. Your transparency will transform you and others.

  • Allow yourself NOT to be the leader: Sometimes, letting go of control is okay. What would it be like if you allowed others to share their ideas without interrupting, giving advice, or being rigid with your perfect ways? You could discover a lot about others and create stronger relationships.

Let's not forget that the environment where you work and live today is constantly shaping you, too.

And you can choose how you will respond to each situation just as much.

So, what's the takeaway?

We might have leadership in our genes, but it's our life experiences that really polish the diamond. Our past, our culture, our upbringing – they're powerful forces, but they don't have to define us.

We can choose who we want to become.

As for that fearless kid in Naples, I bet he'll grow with every new challenge life throws.

Like him, you can grow into the leaders we aspire to be, one step at a time.


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