by CIO Staff

CIO Bookshelf: Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

May 15, 20024 mins
IT Leadership

We’re All OK

Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee

Harvard Business School Press, 2002, $26.95

It’s like dŽjˆ vu all over again as Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence, recycles his Emotional Intelligence theory, this time applying it to the principles of leadership. In Primal Leadership, Goleman and his fellow researchers argue that the most important role of leaders is to drive an organization’s collective emotions?rather than its earnings or strategy?in a positive direction.

Feelings are contagious. Even in the work environment, people’s feelings, both positive and negative, tend to rub off on each other. A leader’s mood is particularly infectious, say the authors: Employees take their emotional cues from the top, and even when the boss isn’t highly visible, there’s a trickle-down effect. The key, says Goleman, is to infect your workers with the right kinds of emotions. And that requires?you guessed it?emotional intelligence.

The authors link leadership successes and failures to what they have dubbed primal leadership, a.k.a. emotionally intelligent leadership: the ability to create a reservoir of positive feelings. A resonant (and thus effective) leader is in tune with employees’ emotions (and vice versa) and creates a positive tone, while a dissonant (and ineffective) leader is out of touch with the feelings within an organization and sets a negative tone.

For those who might say, “Well, duh,” the authors add that being a successful leader goes beyond merely being a jolly good fellow, and they offer plenty of guidance for dissonant leaders seeking recovery. Although the book claims to transform leadership from art to science (and it is chock-full of interesting research with business case studies), it’s really more like a self-help book for leaders. But hey, that can’t be bad.

-Stephanie Overby

Avoid Collisions

When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work.

By Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman

HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, $25.95

A lot has been written about gender and racial politics in the workplace, but another tension point has been lost in the shuffle: generational differences. Enter When Generations Collide, a useful book by Lancaster and Stillman, cofounders of a company that lectures and trains on that very subject.

Their premise is that we’re seeing a historically broad age range of employees working together?spanning the traditionalists of the World War II generation through the baby boomers and Gen X-ers to the latest arrivistes, the millennials. If employers don’t understand how each generation is unique, their recruiting, retention and conflict-management efforts will fail.

As a manual for managers and employees looking to avoid problems, the book by and large succeeds. It’s penned in a breezy, conversational tone that makes for easy reading. Lancaster and Stillman deserve kudos for avoiding preachiness and instead letting presumably true anecdotes tell the story. To be sure, their characterizations of the various generations at times come off as pat and stereotyped. Some of the real-life dialogue they incorporate sounds canned. Plus, the book would benefit from a deeper discussion of social and cultural differences within generations. But all in all, this book is a worthwhile read for anyone in the workplace interested in settling multigenerational “ClashPoints” (Lancaster and Stillman’s term, not mine).

-Eric Berkman

CIO Best-Seller List

5.Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up

by Stanley Bing

HarperCollins Publishers, 2002

4.Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

Hyperion, 2000

3.Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee

Harvard Business School Press, 2002

2.Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

by Jim Collins

HarperCollins Publishers, 2001

1.Jack: Straight from the Gut

by Jack Welch

Warner Books, 2001

SOURCE: Data from week of March 24, 2002, compiled by Borders Group, Ann Arbor, Mich.