Primal Leadership

Note from the Leadership Hub Coach: Emotional Intelligence is one of the most critical factors of successful leaders. Daniel Goleman and his co-authors pioneered the now accepted idea that leaders don’t get effective results with logic alone. For your convenience, we have the best bits of the book, right here.

"This emotional task of the leader is primal - that is, first - in two senses: It is both the original and the most important act of leadership."


Leadership, not Leader

As the sociologist Max Weber argued a century ago, institutions that endure thrive not because of one leader's charisma, but because they cultivate leadership throughout the system.

The 4 Domains of Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-awareness

The ability to recognize how your own emotions are shaping your decisions, and your strengths and weaknesses.

2. Self-management

Controlling impulses and managing emotions healthily to respond to situations and problems appropriately.

3. Social awareness

Picking up on social dynamics and emotional cues of others.

4. Relationship management

Developing good relationships and communication skills, working well with others through teamwork and conflict avoidance.

These EI competencies are not innate talents, but learned abilities, each of which has a unique contribution to making leaders more resonant, and therefore more effective.


Using Emotional Intelligence During Big Change

Emotionally intelligent leaders made sure that they engaged their teams in the change process, giving them as much information and as much control over their destiny as possible.

They noticed how their team members were feeling,

acknowledged that those feelings were important,

and gave people opportunities to express those emotions.

For example, one R&D manager recognized early on that morale was tanking after a favourite leader left the company. Rather than ignoring the problem (after all, he couldn't change the situation), he talked to each of his team members individually about their sorrow and concerns.


Make it Personal

That kind of personal attention enabled him to then bring the team together so that it could refocus its energy on the more positive changes surrounding the merger.

Another manager held "team closedowns." Instead of simply shuffling people on to their next job as new positions were announced, on several occasions he brought the old team together to celebrate the past, mourn the end of an era and discuss hopes for the future.

By keeping their eyes open and monitoring the tone of their group, the leaders captured positive energy and found constructive outlets for negative feelings.


Laughter: the shortest distance between two people

In a neurological sense, laughing represents the shortest distance between two people because it instantly interlocks limbic systems.

This immediate, involuntary reaction, as one researcher puts it, involves "the most direct communication possible between people – brain to brain – with our intellect just going for the ride, in what might be called a 'limbic lock'.

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