I know two people with a genetic propensity to become effective leaders. The assumption of the genetic basis for their inclination towards leadership roles was based on the conclusion after observing two sets of parents. Person A grew up in a home wherein the mother and father were pillars in the community. The mother was a well-known teacher, while the father was a respected local government official.
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On the other hand, Person B enjoyed the same privileges, growing up in a family wherein both parents were decorated leaders in their respective fields of endeavors. However, Person A grew up to become a leader in the community, while Person B struggled to hold on to a job and refused to engage in any type of leadership responsibility. It is my opinion that Person B may have the genetic propensity to handle leadership roles, but environmental factors hindered the development of the said capability.
My assumption was heavily influenced by recent research findings debunking the long-held dichotomy between nature and nurture (Steinberg 1). According to Laurence Steinberg, Temple University’s professor of psychology, the old nature and nature debate requires a radical alteration, because it is a false dichotomy. He said that genes are like switches that react to certain factors in the environment.
In the past, genes are perceived as some sort of a roadmap that the body uses to chart a certain pathway. In other words, there is already a built-in plan that the body simply follows until it reaches an expected outcome. It is easy to understand the logic for the said intellectual framework utilized to understand the interaction between the genetic code within a person’s DNA and the environment that nurtured the said individual.
This is demonstrated by the physical features of the human body. Thus, if one parent is a Caucasian, then, the offspring grows up to exhibit certain physical features common to the said racial profile. The same thing can be said of a child born into a family wherein the father and mother are of African-American descent. As a result, the utilization of the said analogy caused a person to think that genes are like sets of instructions that dictates the growth and development of human beings, and this includes certain personal characteristics.
There are certain flaws to the idea regarding the way genetic factors affect the growth and development of human beings. In the aforementioned case between two people with the same genetic propensity to engage in leadership roles, it was clear to all that even in the presence of a certain genetic code, the capabilities associated to the said genetic factor failed to materialize. In other words, there is a need to explain the failure for the expression of the said trait. It is now easier to accept Steinberg’s explanation that a person’s genes and the environment that nurtured the said individual work in conjunction with each other. The environment acts as a triggering mechanism for the manifestation of certain traits and capabilities.
After internalizing the insights gleaned from Steinberg’s discovery, I came to the realization that there were significant differences in the environmental factors that affected the growth and development of Person A and Person B. Person A enjoyed the company and guidance of his parents. On the other hand, Person B was affected by the constant absence of both parents as mother and father had to leave home for conferences and trips abroad. It is the lack of guidance and inspiration from Person B’s parents that may explain the nonexistence of triggering mechanisms to activate the said genetic traits.
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Steinberg, Laurence. Why Some Apples Fall Far from the Tree. 2016. Web.