Technology & Science

Leadership skills may be genetic, study suggests

For the first time a study was able to identify a specific DNA sequence associated with leadership. The findings estimate that a quarter of the differences in leadership behaviour among individuals can be accredited to the genotype rs4950.

Researchers believe they have found gene associated with leadership ability

The findings suggest that a quarter of the variation among leadership qualities in individuals could be attributed to inherited genes. (iStock)

An international research team says it has identified a specific DNA sequence associated with leadership skills.

The findings, which appeared online in the journal Leadership Quarterly, suggest that a quarter of the variation among leadership qualities in individuals could be inherited — due to the genotype rs4950.

To find this genotype, the team analyzed the genetic samples of around 4,000 people in the U.S., as well as information about their jobs and relationships.

The researchers reported a clear link between rs4950 and the tendency of an individual to demonstrate leadership behaviour.

To measure this behaviour, the researchers looked at whether individuals occupied supervisory roles in their workplaces.

The lead author, Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from the University College London School of Public Policy, explained that leadership is a combination between genetic and environmental influences, with a distinct role for rs4950.

"The conventional wisdom — that leadership is a skill — remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait," said De Neve in a press release.

Although leadership should still be thought of as a skill to be developed, De Neve said, the genotype may be significant in predicting who might be more drawn to a position of power.

De Neve added that more research was needed in order to look at how this genotype interacts with other factors that influence an individual's leadership behaviour.