The Origins and Evolution of Leadership

Andrew J. King, Dominic D. P. Johnson, Mark Van Vugt

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract

How groups of individuals achieve coordination and collective action is an important topic in the natural sciences, but until recently the role of leadership in this process has been largely overlooked. In contrast, leadership is arguably one of the most important themes in the social sciences, permeating all aspects of human social affairs: the election of Barack Obama, the war in Iraq, and the collapse of the banks are all high-profile events that draw our attention to the fundamental role of leadership and followership. Converging ideas and developments in both the natural and social sciences suggest that leadership and followership share common properties across humans and other animals, pointing to ancient roots and evolutionary origins. Here, we draw upon key insights from the animal and human literature to lay the foundation for a new science of leadership inspired by an evolutionary perspective. Identifying the origins of human leadership and followership, as well as which aspects are shared with other animals and which are unique, offers ways of understanding, predicting, and improving leadership today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R911-R916
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume19
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2009

Keywords

  • CONSENSUS DECISION-MAKING
  • COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR
  • HUMAN COOPERATION
  • FOLLOWERSHIP
  • PERSONALITY
  • MOVEMENTS
  • HUMANS
  • COORDINATION
  • ORGANIZATION
  • PERSPECTIVE

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