Do leadership role occupancy and transformational leadership share the same genetic and environmental influences?

Wen Dong Li, Richard D. Arvey, Zhen Zhang, Zhaoli Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Using data collected from 107 pairs of identical and 89 pairs of fraternal female twins, this study examined the genetic and environmental associations between transformational leadership and leadership role occupancy. Results show that 78% of the covariance between the two leadership variables was attributable to overlapping genetic factors, while 22% of the covariance to overlapping environmental factors. In particular, 13% (2%) of the variance in leadership role occupancy was accounted for by the same genetic (environmental) factors related to transformational leadership. Unique sets of genetic and environmental variables, which are not associated with transformational leadership, explained 16% and 69% of the variance in leadership role occupancy, respectively. The results suggest that multiple manifestations of leadership (i.e., transformational leadership and leadership role occupancy) are differentially heritable. Although the association between these two variables is largely due to overlapping genetic rather than environmental factors, unique (i.e., non-overlapping) genetic and environmental influences still play an important role in impacting these leadership variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-243
Number of pages11
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012



  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Leadership role occupancy
  • Transformational leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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