Graeme Swann: Natural born leader?

As Graeme Swann prepared for the captaincy of England’s T20 cricket squad, he is described as a natural born leader. What’s all that about?

The story broke on the morning of Swann’s first captaincy appointment [23rd Sept 2011]. It seems the assessment had been made by army trainers at a pre-season training event in Germany.

Impressive, but not enough to advance Swann’s cause above that of the younger incumbent, Stuart Broad, whose injury a vacancy which Swann was more than eager to fill.

“I’ve captained every test I’ve played in, in my head…” he told the BBC, “Now I can dictate the way the play goes on the field.”

The expression of intent is worth close study. I welcome the thoughts of leadership students who also have a passing interest in cricket…


Image from castrolcricket

See comments on this post for recent work on natural born leaders

Swann’s first two tests as England’s T20 Cricket captain produced one overwhelming win, and one crushing defeat with the samde team, against the same opponents.

5 Responses to Graeme Swann: Natural born leader?

  1. samer al salhi says:

    This has been in debate for long time and never proven. Even those considered the greatest men on earth were never been considered natural born leaders, including the “god Messengers” in Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths”. These have never been assumed as natural born, but their leadership roles been explained by the circumstances they lived in. The outcomes of Swann’s leadership will test this theory.

  2. Thanks for this. I don’t feel theologically expert enough to dispute your key point.

    But in preparing the post I came across a recent article which claimed a genetic component to leadership, This had been much discussed, and the article is far from conclusive. It has decided to take the style of transformational leadership as its indicator of leadership effectiveness. This is of practical interest but the assumption needs far more testing.

    For the contrary view (just as in need of testing) see

    For a military view:

    For a deeper theoretical view see

  3. Peter Swinney - MBS (HK) 2011 - 2014 says:

    To stay within the cricket theme and to offer my own thoughts – the born or bred leadership debate is a great talking point, has been for many years and I believe the heat on this subject has been turned up markedly since the scientists started delving into our genes/DNA for a final answer (ref med news/psychology today as above).

    If we agree its a chemical/genetic thing – i.e born with it. Then I would propose merely the ‘born leader’ is an individual possessing the inheritant traits associated with being highly sociable, a person interested in other human beings, and somebody who is motivated by taking responsibility.

    Mike Brearley – Eng captain during the 1981 Ashes series, although mediocre in terms of playing ability – apparently had ‘a degree in people’. He was able to motivate a player to play above himself, rarely became emotional, and above all – possessed great intellect and knowledge of the game.

    Brearley single handedly turned the bad form of Ian Botham upside down within a matter of weeks – a master stroke which led to Englands eventual series winning winning streak.

    Brearley and Swann: Both exceptional characters, although opposites in personality. Both with an intrinsic drive to take responsibility, weather the storm and guide men at the highest level within their field. I’m not sure if I can believe any amount of training, environment, support, learning, extrinsic motivation can prepare a person to take on such a burden – want to do it, and then succeed at it. I’m leaning towards the scientists, I’m leaning towards those chemicals deep within our genes which significantly contribute to everything thought, action and reaction within our daily lives…

  4. samer al salhi says:

    quite interesting !!
    i have to read more to the subject to get closer and add to the debate but initially still have a shaking image about it

  5. samer al salhi says:

    there might be some article talking about genes of leadership , yet there is no final proof about them and some are still talking about the effect of environment on this type of gene

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