Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Book Review by Jack Falt, INFJ

Goleman, Daniel, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press,

2002, ISBN 1-57851-486-X, 306 pp

This is Golemanís third book on emotional intelligence. His first book Emotional Intelligence introduced the concept of the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) and how it contributed to overall success, even more than IQ did. His second book Working with Emotional Intelligence showed how EI was so important to the individualís career success. This book, his third, focusses on the need for leaders to be skilled in EI to make their companies successful.

The role the leader plays in an organization was made painfully clear to me recently when our minister was having a lot of conflict with volunteer leaders in the church. Many attempts were made to work with the minister to rectify the situation. Even mediators were called in to no avail. Upper levels of the church courts were called in, and they put the minister on suspension to do some directed reading and take some EAP counselling. It was hard to understand what went wrong and then I read these opening words in this book:

"Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions.
    "No matter what leaders set out to doówhether itís creating strategy or mobilizing teams to actionótheir success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.
Then our problem with the minister seemed so clear. The minister didnít get it that the positive emotional output of the minister was vital to the health of the congregation. The minister was going through a personal crisis and wasnít there for the congregation. Not only that, the minister thwarted the work of lay people to take up the slack left by the minister.

This book of course is not about churches but about the business world. It begins by reviewing the research that has been done that links the working of the brain to our emotions. The positive (or negative) emotions of the leader can infect all those that work with him or her. People feel good about working for and with a positive leader. They are more productive, more creative. The opposite occurs in a negative atmosphere. Why try very hard when no matter what you do you are criticized, and your creative ideas are ignored?

The book has many examples of successful companies that have been outstanding because of leaders with EI skills. Some leaders seem to have these skills naturally, while others need to learn them. The good news is that these skills can be learned.

Of course it does take more than a leader coming in with exuberance to turn an ailing company around. There is a great deal of inertia to change. People will fight to retain what they are comfortable with. They donít want to do things in a different way. They donít want to have to learn new skills. They can be very cunning at sabotaging the leader who wants things to be more open and caring about the employees.

There are numerous examples of the strategies used to bring about the changes needed. It has to come from the top down. Leaders need to assess the situation to be able to bring others on board to their way of thinking. Sometimes outside help has to be brought in to diagnose the situation and provide the support to allow change to occur.

One interesting statistic about the negative effects of the lack of EI and that is the American hospital system. Over 100,000 deaths are caused each year because of errors made by doctors and staff. In the hospital the doctor is god and lower staff risk a serious chewing out if they point out an error. Too bad for the patient. The TV sitcom Scrubs is a funny but all too real example of the lack of EI in a hospital.

This book is a theoretical explanation of the concept with lots of examples. It does list the eighteen EI leadership competences. The book is meant to show the need for developing EI skills. It is not a how-to book. It may change your outlook on the need for EI skills, but it wonít help you very much to become more emotionally intelligent. There are other books out there that provide exercises that leaders and teams can do to help develop these skills.

I think this is a worthwhile book to read, particularly those who are using the Jung/Myers theory to work with leaders and teams. A book that MBTI® facilitators might find more practical would be Roger Pearmanís Introduction to Type and Emotional Intelligence: Pathways to Performance. This booklet relates the fourteen EI skills to each of the sixteen types.

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