There are markers of a leader. The answer to the age-old question, “Are leaders made, or are they born?” is simply “Yes.”

Leaders Are Born

A 3D illustration of a rotating DNA glowing molecule on blue background, representing the genetic markers of a leader

There is clear scientific evidence of genetic predisposition for leadership. In a 2004 article published in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Ilies et al. conservatively estimated that “17% of… leadership emergence is explained by genetic effects.” In a peer-reviewed 2013 study first published in The Leadership Quarterly, De Neve et al. raised that number to 24%.

Leaders Are Made

We also see that leaders are made. Having leaders as parents growing up is a major marker of leadership potential not only because of genetics, but also because parents serve as important role models. 

Leadership opportunities in early childhood, such as being the oldest, are also beneficial. A 2017 study of men in Sweden found that a family’s firstborn is the most likely of their children to become a manager and hold a leadership position.

This is not to say that if you do not have significant markers, you cannot be a great leader. Besides, many markers can be achieved at any time in your life.

Are You Born and Made to Be a Leader?

Do you have significant markers of leadership? Take our 10-minute Markers of a Leader assessment. It will help you analyze your genetic predisposition and previous nurturing, and show you which markers you can still obtain.

If you’re interested in learning more about your qualities as a leader and executive, see our earlier post on the Johari Window.