We recently learned how much appearance plays a role in how we’re viewed as a leader. For example, while men with bigger muscles are viewed as better leaders, men with mustaches tend to be rare in medical leadership roles. An expert in leadership explains why creativity and confidence could be two of the biggest factors when considering what makes a good leader.

"Leadership is a very complex phenomenon," said Dina Krasikova, assistant professor of management at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), in a statement. "It's not about whether leaders are born or made, it's about how they use their skills once they get into that position."

Krasikova and her colleagues explored why creative and confident leadership seems to be effective at the modern workplace. They also explained how these qualities reflect each other: Confident leaders produce creative results and, subsequently, influence creativity in team members. Creative leaders usually have proper experience behind their ideas and become more confident as a result.

Leaders who lack confidence and creativity, on the other hand, create a trickle-down effect that leads to employees questioning their own ideas. Furthermore, abusive leaders are also ineffective and create stressful situations for employees by humiliating them in front of coworkers, playing favorite, or not giving employees the credit they deserve.

"When you feel stressed, you feel helpless and your productivity and creativity is diminished," she said. "Many times this originates with the leader. For example, you might come to work unsure of what you're supposed to be doing because you get conflicting expectations from your direct supervisor or your boss. The solution is clear roles and communication."

Krasikova recommends that good leaders emphasize heavily on trust, loyalty, and mutual professional respect to help build “supportive environments where leaders and subordinates have good interpersonal relationships.” It is in these environments where employees will go “an extra mile” for their boss because they can depend on and trust each other.

"Creativity is valued in many organizations, especially places like Google, which is all about creative products," Krasikova added. "In any type of organization, a leader is meant to come up with useful, novel ideas. Naturally, employees carry that responsibility as well."

Although this study tied leadership to creativity and confidence, others have found that good leaders are born to rule. Researchers from Kansas State University published a study on DAT1, a specific dopamine transporter gene capable of both negative and positive effects on workplace leadership.

Source: Liu D, Huang L, Krasikova D. I can do it, so can you: The role of leader creative self-efficacy in facilitating follower creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 2016.