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The Biology of Leadership Richard D. Arvey Zhaoli Song Nan Wang Wen-dong Li.

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1 The Biology of Leadership Richard D. Arvey Zhaoli Song Nan Wang Wen-dong Li

2 Recent Recognition that Biological Factors might Impact who becomes leaders and their effectiveness Purpose:  Why such interest?  Abstract and summarize what we know  Suggest future research streams

3 Why Such Interest?  Decline of extreme Behaviorism and demise of the Standard Social Science Model  Initial Research findings: Behavior Genetics, Anthropomorphic variables, etc.  New Technologies Available

4 What is Leadership?  We adopt typical/standard definition that leadership involves influencing others to achieve goals  Difference between “becoming” a leader or moving into leadership roles and being “effective” in these roles.

5 Chemical Hormones Blood Sugar Physiological Height/ Weight/ Gender/ Race Psychological Perception Attention Values ENVIRONMENAL DIFFERENCES (Historical and Current) Cognitive Functioning Personality Interests/ Values Physical Capacities Leadership GENECTIC DIFFERENCES

6 Evolutionary Processes  Assumption is that evolutionary processes involved in selecting particular traits and/or behaviors relevant for ascendance into leadership roles  Need for leadership among followers in order to adapt and coordinate activities—key to survival

7 Five Major Transitions in Evolution of Leadership 1)Leadership emerged in pre-human species as a mechanism to solve simple group coordination problems 2)Behavior involving significant conflicts of interest where dominant or socially important individuals evolved as leaders 3) Dominance attenuated to pave the way for democratic and prestige-based leadership to facilitate group coordination 4) The increase in human group size created the need to select leaders based on powerful social and cognitive mechanisms 5)Increase in social complexity produced the need for more powerful and formal leaders to manage complex relationships 6)Add—Increase in technical complexity produced need for smart and socially adaptable leaders

8 King et al. (2008) and Hogan et al. (2009) articulated the kinds of characteristics of leaders that are implicated in their evolutionary analyses. The typical suspects of personality traits (e.g. extraversion, dominance, etc.), social skills (e.g., perceiving the needs of followers, etc.), physical factors (i.e., height, weight, health, etc.), motivation, etc. are suggested.

9 Comparative Animal Studies King, et al. (2009) observes that across species, “individuals are more likely to emerge as leaders if they have a particular morphological, physiological, or behavioral trait increasing their propensity to act first in coordination problems” Geese Fish Wolves Elephants Hawks

10 Several themes fall out: 1)There is certainly evidence for leader- follower relationships, 2) Particular individuals take on leadership roles 3) Some correlates exist between certain characteristics and leadership (i.e. body size, dominance, experience, etc.) 4)While there is some evidence that individuals take on such roles, they are not always consistent across time and/or tasks 5)There appears to be some evidence that environmental factors influence who and when individuals take up leadership roles (e.g. turbulence in environment, particular task involved, etc.).

11 Genetic Factors The Question of whether leadership is something one is “born” with or “made” has been around for centuries Leadership Runs in Families But families share both genes and environments Use of Twin Studies Identical twins (who share 100% of genes) compared to fraternal twins (who share only around 50% of their genes) Assume common environments (same families, cohorts, wealth, family rearing practices, etc.) When identical twins are more alike on a phenomenon (i.e. leadership) than fraternal twins genetic influences are implicated

12 Statistical methods now permit the estimation of how much of the variance observed is due to genetic influences (heritability) or environmental influences Evidence for Leadership Arvey, Rotundo, Johnson, Zhang, and McGue (2006) used 238 identical male twins and 188 fraternal male twins to examine the heritability of leadership role occupancy. Findings showed that genetic influence accounted for 31% of the variance. Similar study by Arvey, Zhang, Avolio, and Kruger (2007) using female twins showed similar results Research on the heritability of “entrepreneurship” showed similar heritability estimates.

13 New Directions with Regard to Leadership using Twins Search for potential genetic- environmental interactions Study by Zhang, Ilies, & Arvey (2009) examining whether early family conflict (an environmental experience) would interact with genetic factors in influencing whether individuals moved into positions of leadership. Search for possible mediators Gene-environment correlations: “But the environment is not a unitary set of circumstances, and individuals efforts to seek or create environments compatible with their genetic endowments are fundamental to the process of evolution” (Johnson, 2007, p. 424)

14 Anthropomorphic Factors Height: meta-analysis by Judge and Cable (2004) showed that height was moderately correlated with leadership emergence (.24) and leader performance (.18) Weight: There is theorizing that the relationships between this variable and a variety of success variables may differ by gender (see Judge and Cable, 2010) Physique Appearance Attractiveness Could be contextual (e.g. type of organization, gender differences, etc.)

15 Endocrinology The endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone into the bloodstream to regulate the body (Wikipedia)system glands hormone Testosterone: Compelling evidence has documented an association between testosterone and dominance using both animal and human subjects. The association between T and dominance is observed in primates with a more developed social structure Some issues: Whether there is a direct causal relationship between T and dominance

16 Some issues: Whether there is a direct causal relationship between T and dominance Whether dominance and aggression are affected similarly The conditions under which T and dominating behavior is aroused Whether other hormones in combination with T affect dominance Serotonin: shows important functions in regulating emotions, eating behaviors, biological rhythms, behavioral arousal and motor activity Anderson and Summers (2007) discuss the serotonergic system and it’s possible relevance to leadership, and they propose that any relationship exists mainly through the serotonergic regulation of mood and aggression

17 Oxytocin: Related to trustworthiness between humans (Zak, Kurzban, & Matzner, 2005), and higher oxytocin levels are associated with trustworthy behavior or others’ intention to trust.

18 Neuroscience Techniques used: electro- and magnetoencephalography (EEG and MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI ) Identification of brain regions associated with decision-making Using the technique of quantitative electroencephalographs (qEEG). Waldman, Balthazard, Peterson, Galvin and Thatcher (In press) conducted qEEG assessments for 46 senior leaders from a variety of industries, and found that the right frontal brain coherence predicted leaders’ behavioral charisma perceived by followers.

19 Balthazard et al. was interested in what constitutes complex adaptive leadership. They used quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) to detect brain activities of military leaders differing in psychometric assessments of self- complexity, and some preliminary results seem to suggest observable differences in certain areas of the brain are related with high/low self-complexity.

20 Summary It appears that biological phenomenon are indeed related to leadership Across a wide variety of variables Across different species Across both observable and unobservable phenonmenon

21 Future Directions Continue to explore and affirm relationships between biological and leadership variables Explore more complex relationships: Mediation Interactions (both between biological variables and environments and with each other Utilize more sophisticated methodology (e.g. longitudinal and developmental models)

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