The Secret to Being a Great Leader? It’s in Your Genes, Researchers Say

Mark Prigg, Daily Mail (London), January 15, 2013

Leaders really are born and not made, scientists say after finding a gene that influences whether someone is likely to rule or be ruled.

After analysing DNA samples from 4,000 people, the team from University College London discovered that those with the gene were up to 25 per cent more likely to have a supervisory role at work.

‘We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations,’ wrote lead scientist Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, in the journal Leadership Quarterly.

However, he said that with half the population possessing the gene, experience and environment still played a greater role in gaining a high-flying job.

Researchers warned that companies could one day run genetic tests on job applicants to assess leadership potential. ‘We should seriously consider extending current protections against genetic discrimination from health care to employment,’ said the report.

The team analysed two large US health studies – the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study – for its research.

Some of the greatest leaders in recent history include Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.

But leaders do not necessarily have to be heroic or good.

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan were also great leaders in their own way.

The new research suggests at least the possibility that some of these historic figures were blessed with the leadership gene.

Dr De neve added: ‘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.’

More research was needed to understand the ways in which rs4950 interacted with other factors, such as a child learning environment, he added.


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  • ed

    let’s see. Nuture vs Nature? wow!! what a concept

  • dhs

    Notice that the liberal is unable to write a science article without inserting liberal propaganda. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela , Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Genghis Khan were never tested for rs4950. So why is the liberal newser even referencing them? Also note how three liberal beloved agitators, King, Mandela, and Gandhi, are included with political leaders of great world historical impact.

    • Dude

      Gandhi would disagree that Hitler was bad.

      • George

        Not necessarily. The Germans had made some pretty good in-roads influencing the revolutionary Indian independence movement. Ghandi wasn’t a fan of fascism by most accounts, but he wasn’t exactly clamouring for a chance to do his bit for the war effort, either.

        Some Indians served in either the Legion Freies Indien (Germany) or the Battaglione Azad Hindoostan (Italy). More still served Japanese interests in the Indian National Army.

        • Michael_C_Scott

          The leader of the INA was Chandra Bose.

  • The__Bobster

    “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”

    The last group are tools chosen by the elites.

  • falsedawn

    Leaders are made by living through tough times…

  • JohnEngelman

    As time goes on genes will be discovered for intelligence and crime. This will end the debate over essays like “RACE, EVOLUTION, AND BEHAVIOR,” by Professor J. Philippe Rushton, and books like “The Bell Curve,” by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein.

  • bigone4u

    I wonder if there is a lone wolf gene. I prefer to avoid either leadership or followership roles and make up my own mind about issues. Then say whatever I believe is true without fear of group disapproval.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      You might actually be a dangerous individual.

  • LHathaway

    This science is interesting, but I bet it more likely something like, say, a man’s weenie size, has a greater correlation with leadership success than what these scientists have uncovered.

  • Michael_C_Scott

    I couldn’t lead a sailor into a brothel, so I must not have much in the way of natural “leadership” skills, but my memory is very good, and sometimes it is the little things that matter.