Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja

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Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja

Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This book poses the straightforward question 'why are some leaders so much better than others?' The co-authors then attempt to answer it in a detailed and explanatory manner.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 272 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1846683275

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Selected is based on the psychology of leadership. Some of us may ask the perfectly reasonable question 'Does it matter who leads and who follows?' Well, apparently it not only matters but it matters greatly. And the co-authors go to great lengths to tell us why. The useful prologue informs us that the whole area of leadership can be traced back in time, by no less than several million years. Vugt and Ahuja explain that the rather innocent (and even a bit airy-fairy to some) word 'leader' is evolved from various academic disciplines. Including the more obvious psychology, there is also biology and anthropology in the mix. Heady stuff. And yes, I did want to read on.

And as we all try to deal with 21st century living and all of its associated baggage, our poor old brains are lagging behind to keep up. Many, many examples are given in this book to illustrate and underline various points. Our pre-disposition for physically strong, tall and firm-jawed leaders can be traced back to the savannah. Some well-known names are given here. But interestingly, there are also a few exceptions to the rule. And answers are given in this book to such universal (and irritating) questions as Why can nobody find a good word to say about middle managers? I think that specific question may ring a loud bell with many of us.

The co-authors have done their research. We visit the animal kingdom several times and also Darwinism to help prove how some people are simply better at leading than others. And some will always be sheep. The psychological make-up of good leadership is broken down and put under the microscope here. An example of a current and modern charismatic leader would be Barack Obama. This book takes that point one step further by asking - and then answering the question - so why did John McCain lose out to Obama? Politics gets a good airing here. All that leadership many politicians say they have is not so. Many fail in leadership situations. Why?

It is a bit academic in places with its Transactional versus transformational leadership theory but generally speaking the language used is pretty straightforward. The book is written in chapters of text. Given the subject matter (and there will always be readers who struggle to engage) perhaps a change of format would have been welcome. Bullet points perhaps or a graph or two. Something a bit punchy - and modern - to keep the readers' attention throughout. There is a little repetition here and there.

We're taken back in time to examine (briefly) the leadership style of names we all know - Mao, Castro, Amin. And the important question as to how one person could lead over so many, for so long and in such a fashion. I found this section particularly interesting. Many people are still feeling the repercussions today.

While I found the book informative and easy to read, it didn't shout out at me. Didn't really sing out on the page as I would have preferred. I don't think I'll remember too much of it and some parts I really thought were down to good old-fashioned common sense. I also was in possession of some of the information in this book from other quarters so perhaps felt a little short-changed. I can't really see this book becoming a 'must have' or 'must read', I'm afraid.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus by Tim Hindle.

Buy Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Selected: Why some people lead, why others follow, and why it matters by Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja at Amazon.com.


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