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