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Primal Leadership

Key Idea

The revolutionary idea undergirding the theory of primal leadership is that the primal (or primary) job of a leader is emotional – emotions make a difference and drives performance. Emotions inspire and motivate us and positive emotions are especially contagious. The primal leader is emotionally intelligent, able to regulate their own emotions and to build emotionally-strong relationships with others.

Book to Read

Primal Leadership
by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee (2002)

Quick Take from the Book  

The primal leader exhibits six leadership styles:

  • Visionary (moving people toward a shared goal).
  • Coaching (connecting with people to improve their performance).
  • Affiliative (connecting people to each other).
  • Democratic (valuing people’s input).
  • Pacesetting (creating new and challenging goals).
  • Commanding (providing direction, especially in a time of crisis).

Quote of Note   

"Leaders cannot lead with resonance if their team’s norms hold them captive. And they cannot change the team’s norms unless they are willing to take on the leader’s primal task – working with people’s emotions and with the team’s emotional reality. That truth is even more apparent at the organizational level, when norms extend to corporate cultures. After all, even the most courageous individual finds it hard to buck an entire system." — p. 190

Related Styles: Agile Leadership, Positive Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles