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The role of genetics in leadership

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

In a new examination of twin studies, Scott Shane, management professor at Case Western Reserve University, reveals a growing consensus that genes really do account for many of the differences between individuals—in business as well as the rest of life.

Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life, observes how genetics influences which jobs people choose, how important work is to them, and how they perform. Also, about 40% of the variation between people’s incomes is attributable to genetics.

Richard Arvey, head of business management and organization at the National University of Singapore, has been studying how genes interact with environmental factors to form such characteristics as entrepreneurial zeal and the ability to lead.

One interesting finding: Genes help explain extroversion only in women. In men, the trait comes from the environment. Businesswomen, apparently, are born, while businessmen are made.

Also, says Arvey, inborn leadership traits do exist, but upbringing counts, too. The influence of genes on leadership potential is weakest in boys raised in wealthy, supportive families and strongest in children brought up under harsher circumstances.

— Adapted from “Homo administrans,” The Economist.

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