Born Leaders

Most things in life are partly heritable, including leadership. A new study has found  that the heritability of occupying leadership positions is about 24%. Plus, the same study discovered that leaders are more likely to have a particular gene (rs4950).

This is the abstract:

We address leadership emergence and the possibility that there is a partially innate predisposition to occupy a leadership role. Employing twin design methods on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate the heritability of leadership role occupancy at 24%. Twin studies do not point to specific genes or neurological processes that might be involved. We therefore also conduct association analysis on the available genetic markers. The results show that leadership role occupancy is associated with rs4950, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) residing on a neuronal acetylcholine receptor gene (CHRNB3). We replicate this family-based genetic association result on an independent sample in the Framingham Heart Study. This is the first study to identify a specific genotype associated with the tendency to occupy a leadership position. The results suggest that what determines whether an individual occupies a leadership position is the complex product of genetic and environmental influences, with a particular role for rs4950.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Slava Mikhaylov,Christopher T. Dawes, Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler, Born to lead? A twin design and genetic association study of leadership role occupancy The Leadership Quarterly Volume 24, Issue 1, February 2013, Pages 45–60


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