Can Leadership be Inherited? New Study Suggests Leaders Born

First Posted: Jan 16, 2013 09:26 AM EST

Are presidents born and not made? A new study published online in Leadership Quarterly indicates that our DNA may have more to do with our leadership abilities than we first realized. The research from University College London is the first to identify a specific DNA sequence associated with the capacity to lead.

The research team, which included academics from Harvard, NYU, and the University of California, estimated that a quarter of observed variation in leadership ability was passed down through genes from parents rather than learned. In addition, they were able to identify a genotype called rs4950 which is associated with leadership.

It wasn't easy to find this leading gene, though. The researchers compared the genetic samples and life histories of about 4,000 individuals. They examined their jobs and relationships, and in the end found that there was a significant association between rs4950 and leadership.

But like anything else, it's not all up to DNA. Environment also plays an important role as to whether or not this leadership gene had the chance to express itself. Actually acquiring a leadership position depends on developing skills, not just inheriting the leadership trait. The researchers cautioned that more research needed to be done to evaluate how this trait expressed itself when presented with different learning environments.

However, having the gene couldn't hurt your bid for president.

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