Primal Leadership

Most leadership tends toward resonance or dissonance. Resonant leaders appeal to people’s emotional centers in positive ways. Even if they convey bad news, they temper it with warmth and empathy, winning to their sides the people with whom they are working. Dissonant leaders, by disparaging the human equation, alienate their colleagues.

When people collaborate on achieving common goals, resonant leaders emerge who, by demonstrating their ability to intuit their colleagues’ sentiments, exemplify emotional intelligence (EI). They use humor skillfully to defuse tense situations. They sometimes point out their own foibles, thereby winning the sympathy and support of those with whom they work.

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee conducted extensive field research among leaders, both resonant and dissonant. They analyze effectively the approaches of such leaders, identifying four central domains of EI: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. They present eighteen useful subheadings under these four general headings.

Some of the authors’ research reveals physical bases in the brain for people’s behaviors as they work with others. The authors trust intuition and contend that considerable effective decision-making stems from analyzing factual material but then acting on the basis not only of that substantive information but also of one’s “gut feelings,” one’s intuitions regarding the overall situation.

Primal Leadership presents a fresh and alluring view of how resonant leaders emerge and of how they can function most effectively in their situations. The authors document their thought-provoking but often heterodox viewpoints with carefully considered research.