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Primal Leadership

by Daniel Goleman

This is Goleman’s third book on emotional intelligence. His first book Emotional Intelligence introduced the concept of the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) and how it contributed to overall success, even more than IQ did. His second book Working with Emotional Intelligence showed how EI was so important to the individual’s career success. This book, his third, focusses on the need for leaders to be skilled in EI to make their companies successful.

Early chapters review the research that has been done on the links in our brain to emotions, which will be fascinating for some and annoying for other readers. The positive (or negative) emotions of the leader can infect all those that work with him or her. Many of our instincts about good leaders are validated by the studies and anecdotes in Primal Leadership. People feel good about working for and with a positive leader. They are more productive, more creative. The opposite occurs in a negative atmosphere.

The book has many examples of successful companies that have been outstanding because of leaders with EI skills. Some leaders seem to have these skills naturally, while others need to learn them. The good news is that these skills (broken into 18 competencies) can be learned and that our EQ can increase over our life spans (unlike our IQ which starts to drop after 50).

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Accurate self-assessment
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-control
  • Transparency
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement
  • Initiative
  • Optimism
  • Empathy
  • Organizational awareness
  • Service
  • Inspiration
  • Influence
  • Developing others
  • Change catalyst
  • Conflict management
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork and collaboration

This book is a theoretical explanation of the concept with lots of examples. It is not a how-to book. It may change your outlook on the need for EI skills, but it won’t help you very much to become more emotionally intelligent. There are other books out there that provide exercises that leaders and teams can do to help develop these skills.