Smith, J. E., Gavrilets, S., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Hooper, P. L., El Moulden, C., Nettle, D., Hauert, C., Hill, K., Perry, S., Pusey, A. E., Van Vugt, M., & Smith, E. A. (2015). Leadership in mammalian societies: Emergence, distribution, power, and pay-off. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Leadership is an active area of research in both the biological and social sciences. This review provides a transdisciplinary synthesis of biological and social-science views of leadership from an evolutionary perspective, and examines patterns of leadership in a set of small-scale human and non-human mammalian societies. We review empirical and theoretical work on leadership in four domains: movement, food acquisition, within-group conflict mediation, and between-group interactions. We categorize patterns of variation in leadership in five dimensions: distribution (across individuals), emergence (achieved versus inherited), power, relative payoff to leadership, and generality (across domains). We find that human leadership exhibits commonalities with and differences from the broader mammalian pattern, raising interesting theoretical and empirical issues.