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Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  8,543 ratings  ·  328 reviews
National bestseller now available in paperback.

Drawing from decades of research within world-class organizations, the authors show that great leaders excel not just through skill and smarts, but by connecting with others using Emotional Intelligence competencies like empathy and self-awareness. The best leaders, they show, have resonance--a powerful ability to drive emotio
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Polly Trout
Jun 20, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was helpful to me, it had good advice and helped me clarify some thoughts and feelings I've been having around leadership that I had not previously been able to articulate. Goleman argues that one of the most important jobs of a leader is to regulate the emotional atmosphere of the community. Emotions are contagious, and people look to their leaders to set the mood and emotional tone. He also shows that effective leadership is a skill set that can be chosen and learned -- that good lea ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Some powerful and groundbreaking ideas, ruined by uninspired writing, and buried under a mountain of weak examples and pointless study summaries.

It is ironic that a book about Emotional Intelligence was written with so little Emotional Intelligence: the result is as interesting as reading my grocery list. Sadly, an extraordinary topic becomes dull and frustrating.

The book was written by different people, and it shows: while a few parts are exciting and engaging, other chapters are boring and har
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many books on the market these days describing leadership skills, but I thought this one had some particularly good insights. It places less emphasis on values like intelligence, vision, and strategy; and more on "emotional intelligence" - enthusiasm, empathy, relationship management, intuitive understanding. Using many real-world examples, the author tries to define and explain those key qualities. Good leaders bring out "resonance" among a team, while poor ones create "dissonance."

Feb 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence - the book's subject is truly interesting and worth exploring.
However, once you read the major part of it, there's almost nothing new - just the same repeated idea that emotional intelligence is important. Thus the book could be so much shorter.
This book is highly theoretical and severely lacks touches on practical learning (although might be not bad at creating motivation to learn and search for information somewhere else).
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was ok

I got through about 36-40% and had to stop. My god is it redundant. I probably absorbed a little, but nothing I couldn't have learned in a 1-5 page summary of the book- and I took extensive notes. In the end the absolutely terrible writing distracted me far too much from any real learning.

This book will likely be better for people who don't already have a psych degree and who do have far more patience than I do. I mean, some people like repetition to make sure a message real
Jeff Burket
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 2002, it is easy for me to think there isn't a lot that is new. The reason being is that much of what this book contains formed the foundation for so much subsequent discussion, writing and thought in leadership and emotional intelligence. The book works through several sections: I. The Power of Emotional Intelligence (discusses how EI traits impact leadership and behavior); II. Making Leaders (how can one improve EI and leadership skills); and III. Building Emotionally I ...more
Kim Valentine
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Class assignment: I created a blog for this book at http://primalleadershipbookreview.blo... that contains videos form the authors and other reviews about this book.

According to the book PRIMAL LEADERSHIP REALIZING THE POWER OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, it takes emotional intelligence (EI) to be an effective leader. The book discusses what emotional intelligence is and gives many examples of the positive effect of six different leadership style
Ben Fike
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the recommendation of a mentor. As a church leader, I realize I'm just dipping my toe into the vast sea of business leadership literature with this book. Still, the relevance of this book for congregational leadership is immediately obvious. The authors propose that emotions matter enormously for leadership, and that leaders ignore emotional realities in themselves and the organizations with whom they lead at their own peril. This means the "Primal Task" of leadership is emot ...more
Chad Kohalyk
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: working, audio
I am of two minds with this book. On the one hand, there are some useful leadership frameworks and exercises, specifically:

1. The 4 domains of EI leadership and 18 competencies
2. The 6 styles of leadership (and when to use them)
3. 5 Discoveries in learning EI leadership
4. Basically all of chapter 7 (imagining your ideal self and associated free-writing exercises)

On the other this book does a lot of work trying to show bad bosses why they are bad, which can be painful to read. As the authors note
Sander S.
Mixed feelings about this.
1) The first half of the book was awesome - the framework of leadership styles, and the personal leadership development plan.
2) The second half of the book - about organization-level EI leadership development - was a complete bore. It was itself what it most criticised: lengthy stream of nice-sounding but rather empty words, quite non-inspirational and intangible. "In this company they ran a program X and everybody was transformed, in that company they ran program Y and
Sergiu Cipcigan
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author talks about the importance of emotional intelligence in different leadership positions. It gives good examples and study cases why having high EI is good for the general performance and well being of the teams he is part of.

A very good thing that I learned from the book is the fact that you need to switch different leadership styles depending on the situation, and don't just apply a leadership style that you are good at, because you can do more harm than good even if you have the bes
Jenn "JR"
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biz-leadership
Another very enjoyable book based on neuroscience -- here, the authors argue that the number one, original and most important role of a leader is emotional.

Humans are very social -- we're entirely constructed that way and we even automatically copy the posture, mood and expressions of those with whom we are connecting with, even heart rate! "We rely on connections with other people for our own emotional stability" and our limbic systems connect to each other.

People take their cues from leaders
Daniel Goolman is a psychologist who has researched and written extensively on the topic of emotional intelligence. His first book aptly titled “Emotional Intelligence” was written in 1995 and is widely regarded as a pioneering work in the field. This book quickly became a bestseller and the material has been extensively used and quoted in many leadership development courses. Since then, he has written several other books on different areas of emotional intelligence. In another previous book, “ ...more
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better books on leadership development that I've read. The content is definitely 5 stars but since the writing style is academic, it's not the most fun reading. It would be great for a class or an executive coaching program. Imagine what a writer like Malcolm Gladwell could do for this book!

Here are some of my thoughts and observations:

-The focus is very much on the development of emotionally intelligent leadership and how important such leaders are to successful organization
May Ling
This book gets full marks in my opinion, but I would mention that it is not for everyone. This book is idea if you 1) already have worked in a few organizations enough to experience a variety of leadership styles 2) you have attempted and both failed and succeeded in some area of leadership. This book is then perfect and provides great examples on how to move forward. At the center of this book is a belief in the plasticity of the human mind.

I disagree that one should just read the first and las
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a little surprised that this rating isn’t higher.

First, I have to say that I listened to the audiobook. And the audiobook was great! This is an excellent book about leadership!

There are so many leadership books out there, but this one covers some key topics that others miss - “buy-in” and why leadership training often fails. Those are two important topics that are not discussed as much as they should be. This is important, because if you don’t know the potential problems of your leadership t
Bethany Smith
Feb 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Resonant Leader was much more to the point. This book went on and on about the same thing
Julian Dunn
Primal Leadership is a relatively clear and concise business book. It defines and then drills into several areas of "emotional intelligence", which is a term often mockingly understood by the general population as giving feelings to managers. Obviously, managers have a huge gap to fill if this is the popular understanding, so from that perspective, the book is on point.

My criticisms of the book center less on what it says than what it doesn't say. "Leader" in the book is often used as a euphemis
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. Honest performance feedback can be uncomfortable. Improves self-awareness. Opportunity for a leader to grow and be effective. The higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be.
- Most leaders are deprived of important feedback. It makes people uncomfortable to give candid feedback on someone else’s behavior. When people can’t see being nice with providing others accurate observations about their behavior or style, their feedback is rende
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many great takeaways!
Farhan Khalid
Our brain has an emotional center, called the limbic system

The limbic system is a slow learner, especially when trying to relearn deeply ingrained habits

To change the limbic system, we need to unlearn old habits, develop new habits and repeat them over time until a new neural pathway is formed

This is an open loop system which requires external inputs to function

Our emotional and physiology states (e.g. hormones, heartbeat) are affected by the signals transmitted by others

Emotions are contagious
Rose Boyer
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's good to see that business and leadership is finally encouraging emotional competence. Looking forward to further training. ...more
Frank Calberg
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Takeaways from reading the book:

Understanding values people have
- Preface: One of the most important, emotional tasks of leadership is to help yourself and people, whom you serve / help / lead, to find meaning in what you do.
- Page 39: Being emotionally intelligent includes understanding yourself - including your emotions, values, purpose and strong competencies.
- Page 39: Being emotionally intelligent also includes understanding others - including a) listening in order to understand their emot
Barry Davis
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence, this book provides a rather extensive overview of the significance of EQ in all relationships, focusing on its power in interpersonal interaction as well as in leadership situations. The book closes with insights on developing emotionally intelligent organizations. Providing practical examples throughout the chapters, the authors begin by describing the power of EQ in leadership, speaking of primal leadership, resonant leadership, the neuroanatomy ...more
Nicholas Modlin
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership, business
Primal leadership offers a healthy balance of scholastic approach to emotional intelligence and the application of that intelligence. There is a section pretty early on that goes over a lot of the competencies associated with emotional intelligence. Many of these, to my surprise had a lot to do with self-management and self-direction. Even the concept of resonance, the end-all-be-all of successful EI leadership, seems to have more to do with aligning individual goals on a personal level.

I finis
Angela Lam
Liked the content, disliked the writing.

The book basically covers leadership from the perspective of emotional intelligence - how it relates to our brains, the 18 competencies behind EI, 6 associated leadership styles, and how to develop them personally and in an organization. Quite a few nice frameworks and new ideas, and I particularly liked how they explain EI constructs/leadership with how our brain works, and explain why conventional training & workshops are ineffective.

But the writing was
This book is showing them about leaders, and how leaders act, and how leaders should be. Leaders push people and they also do their job too and their difference between boss is that they also participate, not just pulling them but they also participate and push and pull people. And it is hard to also know if you are a reader or a boss. Leaders need confidence in what they are doing and you got to be proud of yourself. Leaders aren't easy it is hard but if you become one people will respect you a ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like most business books, this one probably has some utility in the business world, but it would be stupid, pointless, and dangerous to apply a lot of it to non-profits, education, or public service.

Anyone who reads it will likely find something they can take away from it, although for a lot of us, that takeaway will be that we should scorched earth our entire personalities and start over in order to be successful as leaders (in the business world), which is depressing and demeaning, but there i
Danny Hui
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review:
The first time I heard of the term emotional intelligence, was when a colleague of mine was referring to a boss as having low EQ (emotional quotient). The concept of emotional intelligence was new to me at the time and I wanted to learn how to improve this quality in myself.

What I remember:
The book is split into 3 major parts, the power of emotional intelligence, making leaders and building emotionally intelligent organizations.

The author also introduces the concept of a resonant lead
Jos dujardin
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brainwork, economics
If you are looking for some structure and modelling on how leadership can be analyzed and can be nurtured, this book can help.
It starts with providing a model for resonant leadership consisting of self-awareness, empathy, self management and relationship management. If you are a natural born leader, great! You have a set of these skills for sure, but to know that other exists is certainly worth a moment of reflection.
Then Goleman reviews kinds of leadership styles: visionary, coaching, affilia
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Author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist Daniel Goleman has transformed the way the world educates children, relates to family and friends, and conducts business. The Wall Street Journal ranked him one of the 10 most influential business thinkers.

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times best sellers list for a year-and-a-half. Named one of the 25 "Most Influential Busin

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