Primal Leadership

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Primal Leadership and was pleased that I read Managing Emotions in the Workplace prior to beginning this book. After examining the causes and effects of emotions at work and understanding existing theories and the implications of managing emotions in the workplace, Primal Leadership took me a step further. Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee note that the use of emotion in leadership functions is a primal task or function of a true leader. The authors argue that this task is primal because it is both the original and the most important act of leadership (p 5). Their basic argument is that primal leadership operates at its best through emotionally intelligent leaders who create resonance (p38). Great leaders move people by managing and directing emotions in the right direction. Therefore, leaders who drive emotions positively, bring out the best in their employees. When leaders positively direct the emotions of others, they empower everyone to be top performers. The authors call this resonance. Conversely, when leaders negatively drive emotions, dissonance is created. Dissonance can undermine people's potentials. The authors make the case that key to primal leadership is emotional intelligence. As explained in the first chapter, an emotionally intelligent leader knows how to handle himself and his relationship with the people he works with in order to drive up performance (p 6). Leadership concerns the process by which one individual influences others to pursue a commonly held objective. Primal Leadership explains clearly the painfully obvious downside of working with a dissonant boss but I take heart in learning that emotional intelligence is learnable. The problem with dissonant bosses is that they lack skills in either of the two main domains of emotional intelligence, personal and social. The authors argue that dissonant leaders can strengthen their personal competence including their own self-awareness and self-management; or their social competence, which includes social awareness and relationship management. The key is developing a flexible leadership style that draws on various leadership styles, depending upon the situation. The leadership styles described in this book are visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, commanding. The authors outline the advantages and disadvantages of each style and go so far as to provide examples (business situations) explaining the style to employ. For each style, overuse of one particular style can become a weakness. Great leadership knows when to use what style under a given situation. The second part of the book, Making Leaders, outlines the process of making leaders. Leaders can become emotionally intelligent through a process of learning that begins with self-evaluation and is followed by self-directed learning. Primal leaders develop via a three-step process that can be summarized as bringing bad habits into awareness, practicing better ways, and rehearsing at every opportunity. Thus, true leaders are made not born. There is a link between transformational leadership and emotional intelligence. In the transformation approach, leaders want to transform their organizations based on their interpreted visions. Leaders are seen as change agents and must be able to sell their vision to others in order to influence them to believe in their vision and effect change. The vision becomes the guiding principle and the ultimate goal for the organization. Primal Leadership links emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. For emotionally intelligent leaders, resonance comes naturally in their dealings with people. Their actions reinforce synchrony within their team and within the organization. The strength of an emotionally resonant leader lies in the emotional bond he forms which allows people to collaborate with each other even in the face of change and uncertainty. The authors describe four...
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