In a unique survey of America’s workforce, over half of U.S. adults recalled taking on a leadership role during their formative years, according to recent data published by Pew Research Center.
The study, conducted between July 17 and July 23, 2023, involved 5,057 U.S. adults and revealed that one in five adults frequently or often assumed leadership roles in their school or community — while 35% did so occasionally. However, 44% stated they rarely or never took on such roles during their youth.
The data also reveals that men, Asian and Black adults, individuals under 50, and those with postgraduate degrees were more inclined to say that they have taken on leadership roles when they were growing up. When asked why some didn’t take on leadership roles, 54% stated that they didn’t want to, 19% attributed it to a lack of opportunities, and 26% cited other reasons.
Pew Research also reported that 34% of adults felt greatly or fairly encouraged by their families to take on leadership roles, and 36% felt similarly encouraged by teachers or other influential adults. Overall, 44% felt they were encouraged by at least one of these groups. Encouragement varied by race, age, and education, with Black and Hispanic adults, those under 30, and individuals with postgraduate degrees feeling more encouraged than their counterparts.
The data also suggests a strong correlation between encouragement and action. A staggering 81% of those who felt encouraged to take on leadership roles did so, with 38% doing it frequently or often. These words of encouragement are believed to have a long-standing impact, according to the research. It’s reported by Pew Research that a third of Americans surveyed say that women are not encouraged to be leaders from an early age and that this is a major reason why there aren’t more women in top leadership positions in politics and business.
The data shows the importance of encouragement in nurturing leadership qualities. As society continues to evolve, it’s important to ensure that young individuals, regardless of their background, receive the necessary encouragement to develop and hone their own leadership skills.
As more individuals enter the workforce with prior leadership experiences from their youth, organizations can expect a larger pool of candidates equipped with foundational leadership skills.