Born to lead? Leadership can be an inherited trait, study finds

Jan 15, 2013

Genetic differences are significantly associated with the likelihood that people take on managerial responsibilities, according to new research from UCL (University College London).

The study, published online in Quarterly, is the first to identify a specific DNA sequence associated with the tendency for individuals to occupy a leadership position. Using a large twin sample, the international research team, which included academics from Harvard, NYU, and the University of California, estimate that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership behaviour between individuals can be explained by genes passed down from their parents.

"We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations," said lead author Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (UCL School of Public Policy). "The – that leadership is a skill – remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a ."

To find the genotype, Dr De Neve and his colleagues analysed data from two large-scale samples in the United States, available through the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and the .

They compared of approximately 4,000 individuals with information about jobs and relationships, finding that in both surveys there was a significant association between rs4950 and leadership. Leadership behaviour was measured by determining whether or not individuals occupy supervisory roles in the workplace.

The team found that although acquiring a leadership position mostly depends on developing skills, inheriting the leadership trait can also play an important role.

Dr De Neve said: "As recent as last August, Professor John Antonakis, who is known for his work on leadership, posed the question: 'is there a specific leadership gene?'

"This study allows us to answer yes – to an extent. Although leadership should still be thought of predominantly as a skill to be developed, genetics - in particular the rs4950 genotype - can also play a significant role in predicting who is more likely to occupy leadership roles."

He added that more research was needed to understand the ways in which rs4950 interacted with other factors, such as a child's learning environment, in the emergence of leadership.

Dr De Neve noted: "Our work also draws attention to the ethical issues surrounding the use of genetic tests for leadership selection and assessment, and that we should seriously consider expanding current protections against genetic discrimination in the labour market. Our main suggestion for practice is that this research may help in the identification of specific environmental factors that can help in the development of leadership skills.

"If we really want to understand leadership and its effect on organizational, institutional, economic and political outcomes, we must study both nature and nurture," added Dr De Neve.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Related Stories

Obama has better leadership skills, survey shows

Oct 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—A survey conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Management that evaluated the leadership skills of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has found that Obama scored significantly ...

Do women have what it takes?

Jul 13, 2011

So much has changed since 1963, when Betty Friedan's influential "The Feminine Mystique" provoked a national discussion about the deep dissatisfaction women were feeling about the limitations of their lives. Many women came ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

11 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarD
3.1 / 5 (9) Jan 15, 2013
The real question is, were Tea-Baggers born to whine and lie?

I think they are.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (7) Jan 15, 2013
In related news

"Another member of the Bush family is throwing his hat into the political ring: George Prescott Bush, 36, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has announced he is running for office in Texas.

The Bush name is still strong in the Lone Star State: George P. has already raised nearly $1.4 million, though he still hasn't said which statewide office he will run for."
po6ert
5 / 5 (2) Jan 16, 2013
needed: agent orange designed specifically for Bushes
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (4) Jan 16, 2013
The real question is, were Tea-Baggers born to whine and lie?

I think they are.


Seriously? What does the Tea Party have to do with this article? The OWS activists are angels? Do Tea Party activists get arrested on a regular basis? It would be thin pickings to find an actual incident where a Tea Party activist got arrested but for OWS you wouldn't have to dig at all.
Check this link out: http://www.youtub...r8HeWwog
Hakan1997
5 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2013
"Leadership behaviour was measured by determining whether or not individuals occupy supervisory roles in the workplace."

Isn't this a little bit to simple? What about social influence from parents? If one of your (biological) parents occupy a leading position, then it is probably more likely that a child will want to achieve the same. Or that the parent encourages the child to reach a leading position.

With this method you can probably show that having blue eyes, inherited from your parents, is a good indication that you have a higher probability to reach a leading position in a western society.

Does this mean that the blue eye gene is the "leadership" gene?
kochevnik
4 / 5 (4) Jan 17, 2013
It would be thin pickings to find an actual incident where a Tea Party activist got arrested but for OWS you wouldn't have to dig at all.
Teabagger murdered six liberals in Seal Beach last summer. He is arrested
kochevnik
5 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2013
It would be thin pickings to find an actual incident where a Tea Party activist got arrested but for OWS you wouldn't have to dig at all.
Teabagger murdered six liberals in Seal Beach last summer. He is arrested
By downvoting a news event tragedy, conservatard CapitalismPrevails reveals he has no regard for human life
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2013
kochevnik, no link? I can't find it on google. Either it didn't happen or they weren't killed by a Tea Party member and your pulling excrement out of your rectum.
Nobody needs to argue the Tea Party is more civil than OWS. All you need to do is google it. OWS is just a group of thugs with too much time on their hands

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...