Developmental stability and leadership effectiveness

Carl Senior, Robin Martin, Geoff Thomas, Anna Topakas, Michael West, Rowena M. Yeats

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Developmental stability is the degree to which we can withstand environmental or genetic stressors during development. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), concerns the extent to which the right and left side of the body is asymmetrical and is one way to measure developmental stability. Two studies were carried out that examined both the predictive value of leader FA with leadership behaviors and its role in facilitating group performance. The first study examined the hypothesis that a leader's FA is correlated with scores on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). The results revealed individuals with a more asymmetrical morphology scored higher on the transformational, but not transactional, dimensions of leadership behavior. A second study examined the hypothesis that asymmetrical morphology and leadership effectiveness would share a positive relationship. In this study participants who led a business game exercise, revealed a positive relationship between FA and self-reported well-being and task satisfaction. Importantly, there was also a positive correlation between the leader's FA score and group performance. The role that developmental stability may play in leadership effectiveness is discussed in the wider context of evolutionary psychology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)281-291
    Number of pages11
    JournalLeadership Quarterly
    Issue number2
    Early online date1 Sept 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


    • Developmental stability
    • Evolutionary psychology
    • Fluctuating asymmetry
    • Leadership effectiveness


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