Primal Leadership With Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions” (Bradberry, 2009). Emotional intelligence is vital particularly in management and leadership because it helps ease the management of one’s emotions, and that of a group of individuals.

In the book under discussion, “Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee give an explanation on the issues concerning Emotional Intelligence in leadership traits and thus takes it to another level” (Boseman, 2008). They do this in a perspective never discussed before. Daniel Goleman in his book introduces us to what it means for a leader to have “Emotional Intelligence”. In the follow up book he and his co-authors show us that a leader’s emotion is highly contagious.

The authors present to us the idea that if a leader drives his emotions positively, they can bring out the best in all his/her subjects. These writers create the notion that whether an institute thrives or not, all of these is depended largely on the manager’s efficiency in the primal-emotional-dimension. In addition to this, they explain to us in a particular case that making primal leadership work in our organizations, lies in the leadership competencies of emotional intelligence. The researchers highlight on, an up to date research done on the brain, the research evidently shows that neurological devices are responsible for primal headship. The research further explains why the devices are vital in management traits. One such study looked at concepts such as heart rate and breathing patterns. The researchers observed people as they had good conversations then showed that after fifteen minutes or so, the people “Mirrored” each other. They then followed conversations that were negative, where there was hurt and anger, here they noted the same occurrences.

Do the emotions of our leaders affect others? This question takes me back to my early working days. When I was freshly employed I did not understand the importance of positive leadership. I used to release my stress as a young CEO by sweeping the parking lot; it was a great way to relieve my stress although, it also affected the employees as it would increase their stress. It was not until reading this book and reflecting on my behaviors that I was able to realize my fault.

The authors in this book explain to us some key aspects which they call a “Resonant leader” and how the leader’s Emotional Intelligence can be broken down into leadership competencies. These are as follows:

  1. Self- awareness: this would include aspects such as emotional self-awareness and maintaining an accurate self-assessment. In this aspect one is supposed to know his/her limitations and strengths. This aspect also encompasses self-confidence, or self assurance.
  2. Self-management: this aspect embodies strength of mind, clearness, and adaptability, accomplishments, inventiveness together with hopefulness. It goes without saying therefore that, as a leader self management is a critical competency.
  3. Social awareness: a leader needs to have empathy, organizational awareness, and a willingness to serve others. This is what social awareness is all about.
  4. Relationship management: “the leader needs to be inspirational, present positive influence, continually develop others, be a change catalyst, and have the ability to manage conflict in order to build an environment of teamwork and collaboration” (Doh, 2010).

The authors in this book bring forth the idea that, a leader is made not born. They go into great detail by showing us how the attributes reside within our brains and give practical exercises on how to stimulate these areas. I personally have always believed the opposite of this. I always believed that a leader is born with natural abilities and that through education and training, these abilities can be magnified.

In another article on leadership, Glenn Boseman puts forth the theory that; “over the past decades, researchers focused on defining the personal traits of effective leadership but ultimately concluded that there is not much in the traits than as it is in the ways individuals utilize these traits” (Boseman, 2008). He shows us that it is not important whether we are born as leaders, or whether we can learn to be leaders, but rather we take the traits we have and make the best out of them and not to be disingenuous with traits we do not have. He did go on to acknowledge the fact that traits or “Emotional Intelligence” can be an indicator of future leadership. He states that, “traits were found to be excellent predictors of leadership emergence rather than leadership effectiveness” (Boseman, 2008). I take this to indicate that we can identify individuals who are more likely to be leaders. The challenge we have as leaders is to be able to identify these future leaders and to do what we can to foster an environment where they can thrive and develop into the next generation of great leaders.

In additional research, I found an article written by Jonathan Doh where he puts forth this very question of whether leadership could be taught or not. He interviewed some of the best educators from some of the best business schools in the United States. It was concluded that; “all the educators indicated belief that leadership could be learned, although each offered a number of caveats and expressed reservations about how, where, and under what conditions such learning can most usefully take place.” (Doh, 2010)

Perhaps Stephen Stump said it best, “leadership is not like breathing- if you don’t focus your efforts and work at it, you won’t be an effective leader.” (Goleman, 1998) In reading this book and researching on the subject under discussion, I have come to agree with Stephen. Leadership is as simple as anything else because, if we focus on it we can gradually improve. Will we ever perfect all the traits involved in “Emotional Intelligence”? I do not believe so, but can we utilize some of the practical exercises put forth in Primal Leadership, and yes we can. This will improve our abilities and help foster the abilities of our subordinates. The authors in their book, are of the idea that, “whether an organization flourishes or not, depends to a great extent, on the leaders’ effectiveness in this primal emotional dimension” (Goleman, 1998). I also agree that we as leaders need to accept the responsibility and challenge of improving our “Emotional Intelligence” and further recognize the influence it has on others.

Therefore as explained in this paper, emotional intelligence as shown by the authors is “the ability, capacity, skill or, in the case of the trait EI model, a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups” (Bradberry, 2009).


Boseman, G. (2008). Effective Leadership in a Changing World. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 62 (3): 36-38.

Bradberry, T. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Francisco: Publishers Group West.

Doh, J.P. (2010). “Can Leadership Be Taught? Perspectives From Management Educators.” Academy of Management Learning & Education 21(1): 54-67.

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, January 25). Primal Leadership With Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from


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PsychologyWriting. "Primal Leadership With Emotional Intelligence." January 25, 2023.