Publisher: Eye Books (March 2021)

ISBN: 9781785632228


Douglas Board


Can you rise to the top without losing your soul?

Across the world, key decisions are made by tiny coteries of political and business leaders. With enough talent, elan and hard work, any of us can join them – so we are told. Follow key rules: be transparent; defer to bosses and clients; take responsibility; feedback is everything. Understand these and the world is our oyster.

But is it? Decades of working with leaders have shown headhunter, executive coach and former NGO chair Douglas Board that it may not be. Many would-be leaders and senior managers fall into traps which block their rise and undermine their self-esteem.

Elites outlines those traps and shows how best to avoid them. Armed with this knowledge, you may want to use it and join the top tier. However, it may also make you reconsider. Knowing how elites work, do you still want to join them? Or can you find ways to change them?

In this authoritative, ground-breaking guide, Board suggests that true fulfilment demands an adventure into the unknown inside ourselves: why do we seek what we seek? Prepared to be surprised.






‘This book couldn’t be more timely. It explains how the barely competent but entitled occupy elite positions in our organisations and in society in general. It illuminates the endless round of board appointments after evident failure. It’s also practical, offering tactics and tips to navigate the devious complexities of corporate hierarchies’

Gareth Jones

Elites gives a no-bullshit new lens through which to view the workplace. Surely ‘wizards’ and ‘muggle crust’ must now enter the management lexicon?’

Lynne Embleton, CEO, IAG Cargo

The ultimate travel guide of power in the world of work; packed with places to see, things to do and with lots of shared personal experience. At the end you feel as if you know this new terrain and are eager to explore it further’

Niall Trafford, CEO, Buildings Research Establishment

A witty and irreverent insider’s reflection on the mysteries of climbing to the top’

Professor Hugh Wilmott, Cardiff University

‘I get irritated by people who are nothing like as good as they think they are, but after reading this book I now understand them so much better’

Professor David Sims, Cass Business School, London

‘Douglas appeals to the capacity that each one of us has to use our talents, common sense and hard work to help us climb the hills and mountains of power’

Dr Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town




Douglas Board

Born in Hong Kong, Douglas Board has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London.

He is the author of two novels: the campus satire MBA, which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes, and Time of Lies, an exploration of the collapse of democracy. He also wrote the free-to-download novelette, The Rats: A White House Satire.

As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate, and Elites, the product of his years of experience as a headhunter, out from Eye Books in 2021.

Follow him on Twitter @BoardWryter.

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