How Earlobes signify Leadership Potential

I kid you not.  Straight from Harvard Business Review. A study at Aston University has shown that highly aysmmetrical people “had greater self-reported leadership abilities – aptitudes for considering others’ feelings, recognising others’ needs, and inspiring others.  The more aysymmetrical the leader, the better the team’s performance, according to independent assessments.”  Measure the ear lbes, check for asymmetry, and there you have your leadership profile.  Wrist width and finger lengths should also be checked in this way, would you believe?

“How on earth can this be?”, I hear you say.  Well, the research team posits an interesting theory on this.  “People born with asymmetries tend to develop greater empathy, social intelligence and motivational skills as a way of overcoming perceptions that they’re unattractive or unintelligent.”  It’s in the Harvard Business Review, folks, so it must be right.

And that’s not all.  Apparently this is not the first time this theory has been suggested.  A recent twins study at Imperial College, London, indicates that “49% of transformational leadership qualities are genetic.”

Let me see if I get this:  if you have perfect left-right body symmetry you are considered better looking, and (again according to the article) are more likely to be healthy, intelligent and dominant.  And if you don’t, you make up for it by being more empathetic and socially intelligent.

How very useful!  So now we can ditch those sophisticated leadership aptitude profiles and competency based interviewing techniques, and do something much more straightforward.  Stick in one of those new airport security scanners which can no doubt be set up to measure peoples’ symmetry,and see how perfectly their left side matches their right side.  We can ask the researchers to tell us what the scoring system needs to be:  how much weighting to put on a lopsided face versus a lopsided midriff, and much much more.  In fact we wouldn’t need an interview process at all: you could just send in your score.  “New CEO required;  must have a body symmetry score of 80% or more.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO of, only has a score of 69% apparently, so there may be hope for us all yet.  Charles Schwab got 84%.  Ah, that explains it.

I’m teasing, of course.  It does make you wonder, doesn’t it?  Is this simply research gone mad, proving only that you can make research tell you whatever you want it to, or could there be something in it?  They must have some evidence, as in all seriousness I doubt HBR would be publishing pure baloney.  I’ll let you work out what is means for you and whether it explains anything.  Interested to hear from you either way.

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About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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10 Responses to How Earlobes signify Leadership Potential

  1. Pat says:

    Baloney is spelt Bologna


  2. tony combellack says:

    Er, basically it means leaders are ugly fxxxxxs!


  3. Dave Loewy says:

    Just read the original write up on Aston University’s web-site. I think the key phrase here is that “Each group of students had to self-elect a leader”. How often does that happen in business? Typically, alpha leaders tend to self-select or be selected due to success in a range of different behaviours, rather than having the team elect the leader for different reasons?


  4. Dave Loewy says:

    Fascinating article Mike, thanks. Does the article assume that facial symmetry is genotype or phenotype specific, i.e. Nature or Nurture? I’m probably even more out-of-date than normal on this topic, but I thought that right side of your face reflected your left brain behaviours, while right brain affects the left side of your face. Hence, if we are being truly authentic – another supposedly desirable trait of leaders – then our faces should be mostly symmetrical. Richard Nixon had a famously asymmetrical face. Ever seen images of him where they mirror each side? It’s really scarey when they mirror his right side.


  5. Tracy Brown says:

    Wow! I can see a niche market in plastic surgery opening up. “We perform leadership earlobes here!!” 🙂


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