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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 02:56 GMT
Business chiefs 'led at school'
Rugby match
School and sport captains hold the key to success, the survey found
An overwhelming proportion of Britain's top business figures showed their leadership potential while still at school, a survey has found.

Of the 105 chief executives and board level directors questioned, 90% had held roles such as head boy or girl, prefect or sports captain.

Four in 10 held three such positions, including five of the six women who took part, the Financial Times said.

Only 5% had held no leadership roles at school, the survey showed.

Once the will and belief are there, it seems the skills are the easy part
Steve Newhall
The Mori survey forms part of a report to be published on Wednesday by human resources firm DDI.

It found 70% had been a school prefect, 30% had captained their sports team and the same number had risen to head or deputy head of the school.

BBC business correspondent Patrick Bartlett said while the idea that future high-flyers can be picked out in the playground is not new, DDI said it was stunned by the high proportion of respondents for whom it held true.

The firm suggests that is bad news for management gurus who claim they can transform someone into a textbook leader.

They say it is clear that those who succeed do so because they know what they are good at and they have the confidence and perseverance to stick at it.

Steve Newhall, UM managing director of DDI, said: "Once the will and belief are there, it seems the skills are the easy part."

The survey found some leaders wanted to play down their achievements at school, but that only 10% of respondents said they were surprised at how quickly they had become successful.

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