Is Great Leadership Only a Matter of DNA?

We’ve all heard the colloquialism that great leaders are born, not made. The mythologies of cultures through out time of made leadership hereditary in our collective memories. However, as Martin Williams notes in his 2013 article in the Guardian, a University College London study did find that “leadership is partly hereditary.”

Williams ask, “But is it really that simple?” While they may quibble over the details, most academics will tell you that leaders, like other archetypical roles like a mentor or teacher, are created through a combination of nature and nurture – being genetically predisposed to leadership oriented personality traits is a boon, but if conditions are right for that person to develop into a leader, they are not likely to develop that skill.

The University College London report acknowledges this, “What determines whether an individual occupies a leadership position is the complex product of genetic and environmental influences.” The report’s lead author actually said: “The conventional wisdom – that leadership is a skill – remains largely true”.