SIR Winston Churchill’s lopsided features may have helped him lead Britain to victory in the war against Hitler, research by a Birmingham university suggests.
Psychologists based at Aston University found people lacking body symmetry made the most effective leaders.
Usually, symmetry – having a body with matching left and right sides – is seen as a hallmark of beauty, fitness and strength.
But it appears the most successful leaders in politics and business may be those born with irregular features.
Having “unlucky” looks in terms of symmetry forces people to develop the social skills that can motivate and inspire others, the researchers said.
Study leader Dr Carl Senior said: “Churchill was a great leader and I assume he was fairly asymmetrical.
“It may be people who are asymmetrical have to work harder and this compensatory socialisation manifests itself in organisational ability and leadership qualities.”
Dr Senior carried out two studies, both of which involved assessing the physical symmetry of students.
Left and right measurements were made of several features including finger length, wrist width and ear length.
In one study, 80 volunteers underwent psychometric tests of leadership qualities.
In the other, 42 students at Aston Business School were split into groups which had to elect a leader and carry out the task of marketing and selling a car.
Both studies found a strong correlation between specific leadership qualities and asymmetry.
Results of the “business game” study were especially striking. They showed that, not only were less symmetrical leaders rated more highly by their groups, but they also achieved better results.
Course tutors who did not know the purpose of the study marked the performance of groups with asymmetrical leaders 20 per cent higher than those with symmetrical leaders.
“There’s tonnes of literature supporting the relationship between symmetrical morphology and positive social traits,” said Dr Senior, whose research was published in the Harvard Business Review.