Is leadership a trait that is inherited?

Leadership is a trait that some people may inherit, new research has suggested. Published in Leadership Quarterly, the study identified a specific DNA sequence passed down from parents that is associated with managerial qualities.

Investigators from University College London (UCL) compared genetic samples of around 4,000 people and discovered a notable connection between the genotype rs4950 and leadership - which was determined by whether or not individuals held supervisory responsibilities as part of their working life.

Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of the UCL School of Public Policy explained qualities of this type should still be looked at as something that can be developed, adding: "The conventional wisdom - that leadership is a skill - remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait."

The authors noted more research is required to look at how this gene interacts with other factors when it comes to leadership qualities emergence, such as a child's learning environment.

However, Alan Redman - a Charted Psychologist and chair of our Division of Occupational Psychology - suggests there may be more to leadership:

"While this significant study focused on the genetic components of effective leadership behaviours, it does not ignore the importance of social, environmental, and educational factors in the development of great leaders. While it has been said that some people are born as great leaders and others have leadership thrust upon them, this study adds weight to the more intuitive picture; that most leaders develop their skills through a complex interaction of nature and nurture effects."