Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A groundbreaking, evolutionary science-based exploration of the history of leadership that explains how and why some men and women evolve into good or great leaders, and some do not.

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, and what makes an outstanding one? Selected examines how and why leadership has evolved over tens of thousands of years, and presents a bold and compelling new "mismatch hypothesis": the slowness of evolution means that there is a mismatch between modern 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.

Full of fascinating examples drawn from a diverse range of spheres, from politics and commerce to sport and culture, Selected explains why taller political candidates usually win, why women chief executives attract such hostility, why we like it when the boss asks after our children and what prime ministers and presidents can do to improve their chances of electoral success.

This is the first book of its kind — reaching into business, psychology, politics and current affairs — to explore how leadership affects us all. It also offers the first truly scientific theory of leadership: where previous books have provided anecdote, it details empirical evidence. Selected provides deep insight into our personal and professional lives at a time when the world urgently needs to acknowledge great leadership.

From the Hardcover edition.


The Nature of Leadership

"It is clear that once the question ‘Who should rule?’ is asked, it is hard to avoid some such reply as ‘the best’ or ‘the wisest’ or ‘the born ruler’ … But such a reply, convincing as it may sound – for who would advocate...
Read More


“A fascinating and eminently readable book, full of information you will want to share and arguments you will want to debate.” 
 — Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA
“An intriguing and subtle account of the clash that results when old instincts meet new conditions.” 
 — Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
“A really novel book on one of the most important human topics of our time . . . well written, innovative and fun!”  
 — Professor Cary L. Cooper, CBE, Lancaster University Management School
“The book’s practical suggestions are worth taking seriously.” 
 — Nature
“Head and shoulders above most management books.” 
 — Jeremy Hazlehurst, City A.M.

From the Hardcover edition.