by Mark van Vugt, PhD, and Anjana Ahuja
HarperCollins, $25.99, 262 pages
What makes a good leader? Bookshelves at libraries and bookstores are littered with hundreds of books trying to answer that question. Most books follow a simple format; find one great leader and then examine their life in detail to find out what makes them tick, from their childhood right through school and into the workplace. In the end, do any of these books help other people become leaders themselves? According to Mark van Vugt and Anajana Ahuja, the answer is no. They have come up with a more scientific answer to what makes someone a leader, and their model is the Evolutionary Leadership Theory. By examining how we were in our ancestral past they have come up with the theory that we are still wired for when we lived in small bands. Those leaders rose up with a specific skill set, and they had more access to mates and therefore were able to pass on their genes to the next generation. This book is a bit sloppy; it tries to bridge the line between being scientific and being approachable to all readers. This leads to poor writing and the same phrase said over and over, until you are tired of seeing the phrase. The idea is interesting, the writing just falls flat.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter