Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: Management, Leadership & Personal Development, Business & Management, Philosophy & Ideas


Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters

Anjana Ahuja, Mark van Vugt

A groundbreaking, definitive exploration of the history and science of leadership that uses untapped evolutionary history and science to explain everything from why young people join terrorist groups to what prime ministers and presidents can do to improve their chances of electoral success.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847652119 (26 Aug 2010)

About the book

We are all leaders or followers - or both. We can recognise leadership in almost every area of life: in the workplace, among friends, within families, in politics and religion. But what makes a good or bad leader, why are some people followers, and what are the benefits of each? Fusing psychology, business, history and current affairs, Selected examines how and why leadership has evolved over tens of thousands of years, and presents a bold and compelling new 'mismatch hypothesis': that the slowness of evolution means that there is a mismatch between modern ideas of leadership and the kind of leadership that our Stone Age brains are still wired for. This makes for all sorts of tendencies, problems and solutions that no author has yet discussed but that affect all aspects of our lives - it's why, for example, we prefer working in small companies.Full of fascinating examples drawn from a diverse range of spheres, from politics and commerce to sport and culture, Van Vugt and Ahuja show our evolutionary history explains why taller political candidates usually win, why women chief executives attract such hostility and why we like it when the boss asks after our children. This is the first book of its kind to explore how the evolution of leadership affects us all - and, by doing so, to provide deep, practical insight for all of us into our personal and professional lives.

About the author

Mark van Vugt is professor of psychology at the VU University of Amsterdam and holds honorary positions at the Universities of Oxford and Kent in the UK. Anjana Ahuja is a feature writer with a weekly science column in The Times, where she first introduced Mark's work to a wider audience, and holds a PhD in space physics.


There are few concepts as widely discussed but as little understood as leadership. By taking us back to the deepest historical and physiological foundations of our desire to lead and our willingness to follow, Selected makes an important contribution to addressing this deficit. It is a fascinating and eminently readable book, full of information you will want to share and arguments you will want to debate. As the authors show, much of human behaviour is explained by the fact that we are using prehistoric brains to navigate a modern world. By revealing the evolutionary foundation of leadership ,Selected helps us understand why we have the assumptions we do and encourages us to think again about the best ways to lead.

- Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA

This is a really novel book on one of the most important human topics of our time, leadership. It is well written, innovative and fun!

- Professor Cary L Cooper, CBE, Lancaster University Management School

For all our modern technology, in many ways we still use Pleistocene brains. Leadership is an example of a human trait that owes much to our distant evolutionary past, rather than our technological present. Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja have written an intriguing and subtle account of the clash that results when old instincts meet new conditions.

- Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: Management, Leadership & Personal Development, Business & Management, Philosophy & Ideas