Increasingly, people are beginning to realize that asking how much heredity or environment influence a particular trait is not the right approach. The reality is that there is not a simple way to disentangle the multitude of forces that exist. These influences include genetic factors that interact with one another, environmental factors that interact such as social experiences and overall culture, as well as how both hereditary and environmental influences intermingle. Instead, many researchers today are interested in seeing how genes modulate environmental influences and vice versa.
It's unclear whether problem-solving ability is inherited, says Kinicki, but it can be greatly developed by early environmental factors like parenting and schooling. Ask questions about the toughest problems the candidate ever solved and look for those who have overcome major challenges. People who have exhibited a combination of problem-solving ability and the resilience necessary to overcome tragedy or major setbacks like the death of a parent or a business failure often make great leaders because of their experience and empathy, he says.
There’s an analogy I like to use to illustrate this point. Asking which is more important, genes or environments, is kind of like asking which is more important in making an ordinary automobile run, spark plugs or gasoline. You need both. They’re both absolutely essential, and it’s the same for genes and environments. Asking the question “which one is more important?” really doesn’t make any sense. Yet in spite of the fact that most people will tell you that genes and environments interact, they’ll also tell you that some characteristics are more genetic than others, even though this can’t be right. Research on epigenetics has really driven this point home. So, I think as we learn more about epigenetics, there will need to be some change in theoretical perspective among some scientists.