'Mummy's boys grow up to be the best leaders'

Adolf Hitler always carried a photograph of his mother, while Lenin claimed it was his maternal influence that inspired his revolutionary zeal.

In a more peaceful vein, Mahatma Gandhi can thank his mum for setting him on the road to living sainthood by encouraging his vow to eschew the pleasures of wine, women and meat.

According to researchers from Heriot-Watt University, the reason for these important figures' rise to power and influence may be down to their relationships with their mothers.

They argue that mummy's boys, from George W Bush to Richard Branson and the BP boss John Browne, eventually let go of the maternal apron strings to become the most effective leaders.

Howard Kahn of the university's Department of Business Organisation said: "No one knows what makes a good leader. While some people think they are born, others believe it has more to do with education, personality or even height.

"We hope that by moving away from the trait and behavioural theories to look at people's childhoods we will be able to identify a single important factor."

According to research carried out so far it is people who have had a happy childhood with their mothers who are more likely to go on to be the best bosses.

By comparison, bosses who had an irregular or bad relationship with their mothers are more likely to be inconsistent and ineffective in their management styles.

Those who were neglected or ignored as children often become fiercely independent in adult life and expect their workers to be the same.

Previous research has already argued that childhood and adolescent relationships at home have an influence on emerging leaders during their formative years.

Birth order, family size and parental treatment have all been recognised as major factors in the development of leadership tendencies. First-born children are often given more responsibility, while the youngest gets more attention. Those with siblings have to learn how to how to work better in a group.

For many leaders the input of their mothers' emotional intelligence in their formative years helps them to learn how to motivate others.

The researchers at Heriot-Watt hope that by discovering the key to successful leadership they can help pinpoint potential high-flyers of the future at an early stage.

In addition they hope their work into the effects that mothers can have on leaders from the worlds of politics, business and sport will help teach bosses to change their leadership techniques when dealing with different employees, thereby increasing their effectiveness.

In putting their theory to the test, Dr Kahn and his team are working with 12 of Scotland's leading figures from politics, sport and business to discover how their childhood has influenced their successes.

"If we can work out what successful leaders have in common we might be able to predict who is going to be a leader in the future and train them to adapt to different situations," said Dr Kahn, who refuses to name the leaders involved in the programme until the research has been concluded.

"We don't have enough good leaders but if we can identify those with leadership style and teach them how to use it effectively then it can avoid personality clashes.

"People fail to be good leaders because they think they can use the same style for every worker."

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried