Book Review

Choosing leaders and choosing to lead: Science, Politics and Intuition in Executive Selection

Authors: Douglas Board, Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass
Published by Gower
Reviewed by David Sims, Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass


Recruitment has come a long way in the past 40 years, since the days of the old school tie and needing your uncle to put a word in. More of the best people are appointed to jobs ... except at the top, where it is still more like joining a club. The process of making the most senior appointments has not kept up with advances at more junior levels.

This well-researched, experience-based book considers the possibilities: does it matter who does senior jobs? (yes); are such jobs different or just better paid? (slightly different); is it possible to rise above power and politics in selection for senior roles? (worth a try); can we combine educated intuition with analysis? (yes, but it is hard work).

This book expands on each of the terms in its subtitle - science, politics and intuition - and applies them to senior executive selection. The author combines his experience of executive search with all the academic tools, philosophy, research and analysis you could wish for. Finally, he addresses the "So what?" question from both the candidate's and the selector's perspective.

Anyone who wants a senior role, or who has the responsibility for appointing someone else to one, should make it their business to read this engaging but challenging, readable but unsettling, philosophical but thoroughly practical, book.


Choosing Leaders and Choosing to Lead: Science, Politics and Intuition in Executive Selection (Gower £65) by Douglas Board, Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass.