Does Birth Order Impact Career Success? 9 Thought-Leaders Weigh-in

February 1, 2022
February 1, 2022 Terkel

Does Birth Order Impact Career Success? 9 Thought-Leaders Weigh-in


How do you think birth order impacts career success?

Here is what 9 thought-leaders had to say:


  • Firstborns Tend to Be Natural Leaders
  • The Oldest Leads the Pack
  • Birth Order is Not as Crucial as the Age Gap
  • Youngest Children Are Sociable Rebels
  • Younger Siblings Observe Older Sibling
  • Birth Order Shows How You Succeed
  • Not Significantly
  • Correlation Isn’t Necessarily Causation
  • Younger Siblings Pursue their Passions


Firstborns Tend to Be Natural Leaders

It makes sense that the firstborn child has certain responsibilities that the younger siblings did not have. They have to navigate certain milestones on their own while the younger kids get the advantage of seeing firsthand how these milestones were for their older siblings. There are studies that show that older siblings have a higher propensity to be CEOs and entrepreneurs like Steve Balmer, former Microsoft CEO and now owner of the LA Clippers.

They also have a tendency to have strong leadership chops, because of the role they were born into family-wise. This of course is a case-by-case basis but if you were to make a generalization here, it seems as though the eldest kids seem to tend to lead.

Brandon Brown, Grin


The Oldest Leads the Pack

As the oldest granddaughter, my grandma would say that since I was little, all my younger siblings and cousins would wait for my direction as to what game we were going to play, when and how…and do it! I have always been like that. Nobody told me or taught me I had to be that way, it just came naturally to me. As I reflect over the years on why this is, I believe that as the oldest sibling we naturally develop leadership skills from the family dynamics that later are transferable to the workplace, where those may translate in opportunities for advancement and leadership roles.

Patty Hickok, NANA Regional Corporation


Birth Order is Not as Crucial as the Age Gap

Birth order’s impact on career success is a very individual issue and shouldn’t be generalized. Of course, rising first and further children varies as parents get experience in shaping their offspring. The more important factor for career success is the age gap between the first child and his siblings.

A significant age difference may cause the older sibling to learn responsibility faster, resulting in a greater likelihood of developing leadership and managerial traits. On the other hand, a small age gap affects more partnerships between children and a specific type of competition, which are reflected in their professional careers.

Michal Jonca, PhotoAiD


Youngest Children Are Sociable Rebels

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the effects of birth order on career success will vary from person to person. However, here’s my personal observation of how birth order can have an impact on career success:

Firstborns tend to be more perfectionistic and driven to succeed than their later-born siblings. They’re also more likely to be high achievers and have successful careers. Secondborns (and middle children) are typically more rebellious and creative than their older siblings and are often better at negotiating and networking. And lastborns are usually good at multitasking and are often very sociable, making them well-suited for jobs that require customer service skills.

Claire Westbrook, LSAT Prep Hero


Younger Siblings Observe Older Siblings 

Since older siblings typically start experiencing the professional world before younger siblings, younger siblings could learn, through observation, some tips on how to handle a career. This could give younger siblings an advantage because they would have gained some knowledge about what to do or not to do in order to succeed career-wise before even officially stepping into that part of their lives.

Matt Woods,


Birth Order Shows How You Succeed

Birth order doesn’t guarantee success, but it might point to how you become successful. Success can be found through a number of different traits, whether through creativity, organization, or conflict resolution abilities. If you’re the oldest child with leadership abilities or a youngest who likes to entertain, lean into your strengths–it will help your career in the long run.

Jesse Richardson, The Brothers Apothecary


Not Significantly

Birth order does not necessarily affect career success. Each sibling will have a unique personality, and each sibling may be treated in a particular way by their parents as well, but not simply because of the order of birth. Overall, while one’s family background and upbringing can affect their career choices, birth order is not the most significant factor.

Matt Miller, Embroker


Correlation Isn’t Necessarily Causation

While a high percentage of successful CEOs tend to be first-born children, the numbers don’t necessarily back up that first-born children find the most professional success. That fact should actually be encouraging–no matter what your birth order is, you’re able to improve your skills and abilities and find success in whatever way suits you.

Michael Williamson, Hoist


Younger Siblings Pursue their Passions

It’s not a given, but in general, I’d say younger siblings go for passion careers, while older siblings hem closer to what their parents did.

The firstborn is getting more of their parents than their siblings. Younger kids are given more leeway as the parents gain more experience and learn to be less overbearing in raising their children. Older kids typically have their own pursuits, but their model for what success looks like is going to be more akin to what their parents do. Younger children have more room to explore and are therefore more likely to take on a career of interest to them.

David Patterson-Cole, Moonchaser


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