Primal Leadership

HBR: Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee-2001

Executive Summary

Much has been written about emotional intelligence, social intelligence and other leadership characteristics that distinguish successful leaders.  This article by Golemen, Boyatzis and McKee reinforces much of the foundations of Engagient’s High Performance Cultural Assessment.  The authors have concluded that the general mood of a leader is critical in setting the mood of their entire work team.  The work is a next step in the discussion of emotional intelligence which clearly pointed to self-awareness and emotional maturity as critical characteristics of successful leaders.

The conclusions are built off of fundamental psychological studies on how the brain or more specifically the limbic system (our brain’s emotional centre) is an “open loop” system that was fundamental to evolution of humans to enable them to come to the emotional rescue of a fellow human being.  That basic open loop system serves the same purpose today as it did to our ancestors.  However, today it is key to our understanding of how our moods affect our employees.

Everyone has known the difference in atmosphere in working for a boss who is a motivational or inspirational leader versus the sense of dread at going to work for a boss who is all too often in a foul mood.

The even better news is that the linkage to this enlightened style of leadership also transmits itself in to a more successful organization.

The authors go on to provide practical advice to the reader on how to tackle this challenge as a leader.  They provide a simple 5 step process for you to follow:

  1. Determine who you want to be.
  2. Know who you are now (best done with clear assessment tools).
  3. Set out a plan on how to get to your desired state.
  4. Have a plan on how to make the changes stick.
  5. Get help from others.

For a full exploration of this article go to Harvard Business Review.

Primal Leadership

Engagient Multi-Media

Quick Clips on Employee Engagement.

Connect With Engagient

Sign up to receive our Employee Engagement Tips Sheet.

Recent posts




We have used over a dozen top-notch speakers, and Don has received the highest feedback scores of any of them.

What people get out of Engagient is unique, timely, scientific, and pragmatic. It's not the same old motivational or touchy-feely content – it makes you sit up and say "Wow I need to DO these things!"

I especially appreciate his desire to work within the thematic context of our meetings - it never feels like he is just dropping a cookie-cutter speech into a meeting - he wants it to be a great fit.

--George Hines, Co-Founder
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn