What is Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Discover the transformative power of primal leadership, where a leader’s emotional intelligence and mood can significantly influence an organization’s performance. Learn how to harness this power to create a positive and productive work environment.


In the realm of leadership, there’s a primal force often overlooked yet immensely powerful – emotional intelligence. It’s not about the numbers, strategies, or even the vision. It’s about the leader’s mood, their emotional style, and how it permeates the organization. This is primal leadership, a concept that redefines what leaders do first and best.

The Power of Primal Leadership:

Primal leadership is about the leader’s emotional intelligence—their self-awareness, empathy, and rapport with others. It’s about how a leader’s mood and emotional style can drive everyone else’s moods and behaviors, creating a ripple effect throughout the organization. This phenomenon, known as mood contagion, is akin to “Smile and the whole world smiles with you.”

  • Emotional Contagion: Emotional intelligence travels through an organization like electricity over telephone wires. Leaders with a positive, inspirational demeanor cultivate positive employees who embrace and surmount even the toughest challenges. Conversely, leaders with a negative, ruthless demeanor create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers.
  • Self-awareness and Adaptation: Primal leadership isn’t about putting on a game face every day. It’s about understanding your impact on others and adjusting your style accordingly. It’s a journey of self-discovery, essential before you can effectively tackle your leadership responsibilities.

Strengthening Your Emotional Leadership:

To harness the power of primal leadership, leaders must embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement. Here’s a five-step process to rewire your brain for greater emotional intelligence:

  1. Who do you want to be? Visualize yourself as an effective leader. What do you see? Identify gaps in your current emotional style.
  1. Who are you now? Gather 360-degree feedback to see your leadership style as others do. Identify your weaknesses and strengths.
  1. How do you get from here to there? Devise a plan to close the gap between who you are and who you want to be.
  1. How do you make change stick? Repeatedly rehearse new behaviors—physically and mentally—until they’re automatic.
  1. Who can help you? Don’t try to build your emotional skills alone—identify others who can help you navigate this process.

The Impact of Primal Leadership:

Research shows that a leader’s mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else, setting off a chain reaction that can either make or break an organization. An inspirational, inclusive leader spawns acolytes for whom any challenge is surmountable, leading to improved performance and profitability. On the other hand, a cranky and ruthless boss creates a toxic organization filled with negative underachievers, leading to poor performance and losses.


Primal leadership is a powerful tool that can significantly impact an organization’s performance. By understanding and harnessing the power of emotional intelligence, leaders can create a positive and productive work environment that drives success. Remember, as a leader, your mood isn’t just your own. It’s the mood of your entire organization.

Actionable Advice:

Start your journey towards primal leadership today. Reflect on your emotional style and its impact on your team. Seek feedback, make a plan for improvement, and practice new behaviors. Don’t hesitate to seek help from others in this journey.

Useful Resources:

Remember, the journey towards primal leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires self-awareness, patience, and persistence. But the rewards—a thriving, positive, and productive organization—are well worth the effort.

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