Business bosses 'learnt to be leaders at school'

Many of Britain's captains of industry had demonstrated their leadership potential at school, a report said yesterday.

A survey of chief executives and board level directors of the country's top firms found that nearly 90 per cent had held at least two roles such as head boy or girl, prefect or sports captain.

The majority of the 105 business leaders questioned by Mori admitted they showed early ambitions to take charge.

Sixty-five per cent said they always wanted to lead, and almost 60 per cent said they had been ambitious from an early age. About 70 per cent of those surveyed were prefects, 50 per cent were captains of school sport teams, 30 per cent were head or deputy head boy or girl and 29 per cent led youth groups such as Scouts and Guides.

Just 10 per cent conceded they were surprised at how quickly they had risen to the top of their profession.

Asked why he was given leadership roles at school, one said: "Because I was a pushy little brat! I had a certain amount of energy, capacity and enthusiasm." Another remarked: "I am somebody who tries to get something to happen."

The survey was conducted on behalf of human resources consultants Development Dimensions International (DDI).

Steve Newhall, UK managing director of DDI, said: "Those same charismatic characters we all knew at school, who seemed able to pick almost anything up and become good at it, are running our biggest companies today."