Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership

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9780061963834: Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership

A groundbreaking and definitive work of evolutionary psychology that upends everything we thought we knew about leadership

We are all leaders or followers—or both—and we can recognize leadership in almost every area of life. But what makes a good, bad, or even outstanding leader? Fusing psychology, business, evolutionary biology, and current affairs, Naturally Selected examines the evolution of leadership over several million years, from birds and bees to apes and humans, and presents a compelling new hypothesis: the slow pace of evolution has resulted in a mismatch between modern leadership and the kind of leadership for which our Stone Age brains are wired.

Grounded in rigorous academic scholarship, written with journalistic flair, and full of fascinating examples drawn from politics, commerce, sports, and culture, this extraordinary, eye-opening book explains:

  • why tall presidential candidates usually beat short ones
  • why great athletes often make lousy managers
  • why we don't like working for huge companies
  • why women chief executives attract hostility
  • why middle managers are universally reviled

In doing so, Naturally Selected reveals how the psychology of leadership affects us all—and how we can change our lives by improving the ways we lead and follow.

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Product Description:

Groundbreaking and timely, Naturally Selected unravels the mystery of leadership—why some lead, why some follow, and why it matters to every one of us. Evolutionary psychologist Mark van Vugt and science journalist Anjana Ahuja upend the accepted wisdom about leadership and, following in the tradition of Jim Collins’ Good to Great and Noel Tichy’s The Leadership Engine, deliver a book with the power to change ordinary lives. Naturally Selected teaches leaders to avoid pitfalls and tells followers how to negotiate the foibles of overbearing managers, giving readers a crucial path to achieving happier lives and greater successes.

About the Author:

Mark van Vugt is a leading international authority on the science of leadership. He is a professor of psychology at VU University Amsterdam and a research associate at the University of Oxford. He lives near Amsterdam.



Anjana Ahuja holds a PhD in space physics, and is a former science columnist and feature writer for the London Times. She lives in London.

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