Resonant Leadership

Negative emotions generated by humiliation or ridicule are visually evident!
Negative emotions generated by humiliation or ridicule are visually evident!

The original and most important act of leadership is a primordial emotional role. “All leadership includes this primal dimension, for better or worse. When leaders drive emotions positively… they bring out everyone’s best. We call this effect “resonance.” When they drive emotions negatively…leaders spawn “dissonance,” undermining the emotional foundations that let people shine. Whether an organization withers or flourishes depends to a remarkable extent on the leader’s effectiveness in this primal emotional dimension.” This is the way Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee write about this critically important topic on pages 5-6 in their 2013 book titled Primal Leadership: Unleashing The Power Of Emotional Intelligence, published by the Harvard Business Review Press.

Inspirational Leader… or Autocratic Bully?

The approach you use not only needs to make sense when we connect effectively with people during implementation of “New View” relational leadership, but also has sound foundations in the latest neuroscience! The fMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) used to capture effects helping scientists visualize what happens when positive or negative emotions are attracted are very telling.

fMRI Positive Negative Emotions
fMRI of different effects on the brain under influence of negative and positive emotions

Inspiring people to see their real self, and coaching them with compassion toward their ideal self, instead of coaching for compliance, is an art worth cultivating. You can do this. This is some of the most rewarding work you’ll ever do!

Getting Started

Acting our way into more effective behaviors will help us to recognize the positive improvement in relationships and organizational results even before we are convinced that resonant leadership is a better way. “We see it when we believe it” is the way Karl Weick, PhD, describes this experiential reality in his book The Social Psychology of Organizing. Try becoming an inspirational leader, you might like it!

Learn more…

The free 8-week course on Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence on is well worth the time and effort for those leaders wanting to learn more.


Written by David A. Christenson, MA, MSc, Ph.D. Candidate
CEO Christenson & Associates, LLC DBA O4R: Organizing For Resilience


Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., and McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts.

Weick, K. E. (2001). Making sense of the organization, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Massachusetts.

Weick, K. E. (1979). The social psychology of organizing, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York.