Are Leaders Born?

Have you ever wondered where leadership really comes from or how certain people get to the top? Do you occupy that role because of hard work, or is your promotion to management thanks to something bigger than that—something that's not in your control?

Research published recently in The Leadership Quarterly links the genetic makeup of identical and fraternal twins with leadership roles they have as adults. After analyzing DNA samples and information on jobs and relationships, British and American scientists found that about a quarter of twins who reported having supervisory roles in their workplace share the same genetic component (genotype rs4950).

This is the first study that has labeled a specific genotype as being connected with leadership and having the innate ability to work the way up to a leadership position. The researchers speculate people might inherit leadership characteristics such as extroversion, problem-solving and a tendency to spend more time in school. It's a type of personality and drive, linked to genotype rs4950 (the leadership gene), that puts people at the top—of course, in addition to the obvious acquiring of skills and experience needed to succeed. Left unanswered—for now—is the role environment plays in developing leaders, which could be significant. In any case, next time you successfully motivate others on your team, you might thank Dad or Mom for those top-notch genes they so nicely handed down to you.


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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