Naturally Selected

an Vugt, Mark, and Anjana Ahuja. Naturally Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2011.

If you’re concerned about the amount of time your underlings spend around the water cooler – don’t be. Gossip is an entirely natural and frankly ineradicable method of winkling out unsuitable managers, although you might not be so keen on office hydration if you’re an office ogre.

Still, the fact is that we are ancient brains trying to make our way in an ultra-modern world; when shiny new corporate ideas rub up against our creaking, millennia-old psyches, the clash can make us feel uneasy. … nobody wants workplaces to become havens of primitivism, but we do seem happiest when our working environments echo facets of ancestral tribal life – a close-knit structure governed loosely by trusted elders, in which every member was valued for his or her unique contribution to group living and survival.

Every human society that has ever been observed contains a minority who lead and a majority who follow, which suggests that this time-honoured way of organising human society is driven by an ancient imperative.

…we instinctively regard good talkers as being good leaders.