Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

An investigation of the role of leadership in consensus decision-making

Perret, Cedric; Powers, Simon T.


Cedric Perret


Leadership is a widespread phenomena in social organisms and it is recognised to facilitate coordination between individuals. While the role of leadership in group foraging or swarm movement is well understood, it is not clear if leaders would also benefit more complex forms of coordination. In particular, a number of organisms coordinate by consensus decision-making, where individuals explicitly communicate their opinions until they converge toward a common decision. Taking inspiration from physical sciences, we extend a consensus formation model to integrate leaders, which we define by three traits: persuasiveness, talkativeness, and stubbornness. We use numerical simulations to investigate the effect of the number of leaders and their characteristics on the time a group spends to reach consensus, and the bias in the final decision. We show that having a minority of influential individuals (leaders) and a majority of influenceable individuals (followers) reduces the time to reach consensus, but biases the decision towards the preferences of the leaders. This effect emerges solely from the differences in individuals’ personality traits, with the most determinant trait being the talkativeness of the individuals. Overall, we provide a comprehensive investigation of the effects of leaders and their traits on consensus decision-making.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 8, 2022
Publication Date 2022-06
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 9, 2023
Journal Journal of Theoretical Biology
Print ISSN 0022-5193
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 543
Article Number 111094
Keywords Leadership; Consensus decision-making; Opinion dynamics; Coordination
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations