Leaders really are born and not made! Scientists have discovered that people with a particular gene are up to 25 per cent more likely to be leaders.

After analysing DNA samples from 4,000 people, the team from University College London discovered that a gene influences whether someone is likely to rule or be ruled, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

“We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations,” said lead scientist Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve.

People with this gene were up to 25 per cent more likely to have a supervisory role at work, researchers found.

However, he said that with half the population possessing the gene, experience and environment still played a greater role in gaining a high-flying job.

Researchers warned that companies could one day run genetic tests on job applicants to assess leadership potential.

“We should seriously consider extending current protections against genetic discrimination from health care to employment,” said the study.

The team analysed two large US health studies — the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study — for its research.

The new research suggests the possibility that some of the historic figures like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Martin Luther King, M K Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill were blessed with the leadership gene.

“As recent as last August, Professor John Antonakis, who is known for his work on leadership, posed the question: is there a specific leadership gene? This study allows us to answer yes — to an extent,” De Neve added.

“Although leadership should still be thought of predominantly as a skill to be developed, genetics — in particular the rs4950 genotype — can also play a significant role in predicting who is more likely to occupy leadership roles,” he added.

More research was needed to understand the ways in which rs4950 interacted with other factors, such as a child learning environment, he added.

The study was published in the journal Leadership Quarterly.

(This article was published on January 16, 2013)
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