The determinants of leadership role occupancy: Genetic and personality factors

Richard D. Arvey, Maria Rotundo, Wendy Johnson, Zhen Zhang, Matt McGue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


This study investigated the influence of genetic factor and personality on leadership role occupancy among a sample of male twins. Identical twins (n = 238) who share 100% of their genetic background were compared with fraternal twins (n = 188) who are expected to share only 50% of their genetic background. Results indicated that 30% of the variance in leadership role occupancy could be accounted for by genetic factor, while non-shared (or non-common) environmental factor accounted for the remaining variance in leadership role occupancy. Genetic influences also contributed to personality variables known to be associated with leadership (i.e., social potency and achievement). Furthermore, the results indicated that the genetic influence on leadership role occupancy was associated with the genetic factors influencing the personality variables, but there was no definitive evidence whether these personality variables partially mediated the relationship between genetic factor and leadership. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for leader selection and training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
There have been many people who have read and commented on this paper. We wish to acknowledge Bruce Avolio, Andy Miner, Tim Judge, Joyce Bono and others for their helpful feedback. The research was supported by funds provided by the University of Minnesota and in part by a research grant to the second author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


  • Behavioral genetics
  • Leadership
  • Personality


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