The heritability of emergent leadership: Age and gender as moderating factors

Sankalp Chaturvedi, Michael J. Zyphur, Richard D. Arvey, Bruce J. Avolio, Gerry Larsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In this study, we examined the moderating influences of gender and age with respect to testing the heritability of leadership emergence. A large data base of 12,112 twins from Sweden was used in the current study to decompose the variance of emergent leadership into an unobservable genetic component and environmental components that are either common or unshared among twin pairs. Consistent with prior leadership research on genetics, we found that a genetic factor is able to explain a significant proportion of the variation across individuals in predicting how twins perceive their emergent leadership behavior (about 44% for women and 37% for men). Furthermore, we also found that the magnitude of genetic influence on emergent leadership varied with age, but only for women with the heritability estimate being highest for the mid-age women versus lowest for the older women. Implications for advancing research on the genetic and environmental influences on leadership emergence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Age
  • Behavioral Genetics
  • Emergent Leadership
  • Gender


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