Primal Leadership

In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) book, a topic has a question about how primal leadership focuses on what most influences your company’s bottom-line performance. The answer will surprise you–and make perfect sense: It’s a leader’s own mood.

Executives’ emotional intelligence–their self-awareness, empathy, rapport with others–has clear links to their own performance. But new research shows that a leader’s emotional style also drives everyone else’s moods and behaviors–through a neurological process called mood contagion. It’s akin to “Smile and the whole world smiles with you.”

Emotional intelligence travels through an organization like electricity over telephone wires. Depressed, ruthless bosses create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers. But if you’re an upbeat, inspirational leader, you cultivate positive employees who embrace and surmount even the toughest challenges.

Emotional leadership isn’t just putting a game face every day. It means understanding your impact on others–then adjusting your style accordingly. A difficult process of self-discovery–but essential before you can tackle your leadership responsibilities.

The book, with many articles, is called On Emotional Intelligence at the following link:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lions of Change Destroy Creative Settings

We mentioned The Lions of Change Destroy Creative Settings as a metaphor in our book.

When the giraffe spots an area where it can guide the herds to foliage and protection, the herds calmly move forward, although occasionally a lion appears, blocking the path to the feeding ground.

The giraffe must make a life-or-death decision. It often walks away or gives warnings but rarely launches that crushing blow, though the threat of the giraffe’s lethal kick is known to the lion. In some specific way, giraffes always deal with lions so they can move forward to graze, the herbivore’s daily goal.

Standing up to lions is as tricky in the professional world as it is in the wild.

We are stopped and yanked off the path of moving forward.  We are thrust back into the primitive mode of “survive or die.” In work settings, few of us stand up to the lion with as much ease and focus as giraffes do in nature. But to make use of the encounter, we must commit to the goal of feeding (learning). If that is our genuine focus, we will have more skills at negotiating these conflicts when the next lion blocks our path to growth.

A key aspect of moving forward is to focus on the herd. If we keep that audience–not our individual egos–as our guide, we will attempt to make proper decisions and achieve better results.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Emotional Intelligence and Critical Thinking in the 21st-Century Age of Science

Rooted in our book Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First Century Leader, we learned that academic business also wrote about the need for emotional intelligence and critical thinking in the age of science.

A book called Learn or Die: Using Science to Build Leading-Edge Learning Organizations by Edward D. Hess (published by Columbia Business School) mentions why “globalization and technology continue to increase the speed and reach of change.”

He mentions how we are still in old System 1, but we need to move to new System 2 in the 21st century.

  • System 1: thinking emotionally or pathos fast, not factual, often negative with ego and fear.
  • System 2: thinking positive emotions to deal with stress helps to be intuitive and creative with problems as well as critical thinking—slower thinking about the ability to not be highly emotional in complex settings and begin to hear objectively other views before you make a decision and as you continue to learn about a complex topic.

Washington University in St. Louis had conferences about Critical Thinking: A Guide to Understanding, Learning, and Practicing Critical Thinking. Research on individuals revealed that they were not intelligent thinkers:

  • Hasty (impulsive, little deep processing in examining alternatives)
  • Narrow (assumptions not challenged, points of view not examined)
  • Fuzzy (careless)
  • Sprawling (general disorganization, fails to advance or conclude)

Intelligent thinking is not easy. Thinking is hard work—much harder than most people realize and acknowledge.

Views from recruiter and business executives and the call for critical thinking skills in job descriptions and various reports are consistently implying that critical thinking is useful for securing jobs and advancing careers.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I Can’t Stop Starting New Enterprises

The article below is similar to the metaphor in our book in Chapter 6 called New Herds–Blending into Communities.

We noted that our country always has had deep divisions, yet during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, most people rose to overcome these familiar fragmentations and achieved success by blending into new herds, taking advantage of the country’s unique talent. But that past is reversing, as our once-herd-inspired majority, who dealt with challenging problems last century, has shifted. We’ve grown comfortable, becoming static and solitary, losing interest in achieving cutting-edge goals that include more than a single culture or country, company or CEO.

Below are topics of the article Why I Can’t Stop Starting New Enterprises by Gary Vaynerchuk (Chairman and CEO of VaynerX and VaynerMedia, a full-service digital media agency based in New York City).

“I’M AT AN INCREDIBLY INTERESTING point in my life. I’ve built multiple
businesses from the ground up, starting in the late ’90s with one of the first e-commerce platforms for wine. That helped me grow my family’s business from $3 million to $60 million in sales in less than five years. I’m an author, an investor, and a speaker, and I run one of the fastest-growing full-service media agencies in the world. Under my holdings company, VaynerX, I own VaynerMedia and PureWow and additional businesses, including my sports agency, VaynerSports, all while managing and growing my personal brand.

“So call me a serial entrepreneur. If you want to start multiple businesses, here’s
something to keep in mind: You have to be self-aware. The problem with chasing
multiple ideas without having a concrete base is that you get stretched thin. You don’t see things all the way through. You become half-in across five businesses instead of all in on one, which would have been more successful.

“A metaphor I constantly return to is “You have to have the steak before you can have the sides.” I wouldn’t be partnering to release my own sneaker or building a sports agency or thinking about acquiring or launching other publishing companies if I didn’t have VaynerMedia as a base. Having a successful foundation allows me to do more. A lot of people, when they reach this level, start having other wants or need, whether it’s sailing or buying a third home or meditating. Me, I’m hungry to build. Can’t help it.

“My serial entrepreneurship is largely a product of observing and reacting. More than a decade ago, I saw that social media was going to be the zeitgeist for human connection–a new way to storytelling and build relationships. That’s why I started VaynerMedia, as a reaction to the reality and an insight into the market. It’s the same way Snapchat became huge. Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy observed that individuals like selfies and they created a service around that idea. They reacted a customer phenomenon and built their product into the established vertical of communication. And entrepreneur can and should do this.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“What Makes a Leader?” by Daniel Goleman in Harvard Business Review; Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the Need Now

The EI skills are Self-awareness—knowing one’s strengths, weakness, drives, values, and goals, and impact on others.

Self-regulation—controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions, impulses, and moods

Motivation—being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement

Empathy—understanding other people’s emotional makeup and considering others’ feelings, especially when making decisions

Social Skill—managing relationships to move people in desired directions

We’re each born with certain levels of EI skills. But we can strengthen these abilities through persistence, practice, and feedback from colleagues or coaches.

For ages, people have debated if leaders are born or made. So too goes the debate about emotional intelligence. Are people born with certain levels of empathy, for example, or do they acquire empathy as a result of life’s experiences? The answer is both. Scientific inquiry strongly suggests that there is a genetic component to emotional intelligence. Psychological and developmental research indicates that nurture plays a role as well. How much of each perhaps will never be known, but research and practice clearly demonstrate that emotional intelligence can be learned.

It is fortunate that emotional intelligence can be learned. The process is not easy. It takes time and, most of all, commitment. But the benefits that come from having a well-developed emotional intelligence, both for the individual and for the organization, make it worth the effort.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Continual Learning Through Creative Tension

MIT’s Peter Senge describes the paradoxical term as a vital environment in which an employee can share his or her dreams with colleagues. But more important in the twenty-first century is how these dreams are shared. Today dialogue is as essential as discussion, but few CEO’s and companies actually know or care about the stark differences.

Dialogue is trickier to inspire than discussion because it requires genuine openness, critical listening (rather than ignoring what you don’t wish to hear), and patient reflection. In true dialogue, no decisions are made. There are no winners or losers. It’s a magical setting, where one person can share an imperfect yet authentic dream, and others are free to offer reactions that build on the idea rather than rip it apart through industrial-age competitiveness.

That’s an aspect of creative tension.

Tension shouldn’t connote twentieth-century anger through emotional office explosions. And that’s exactly what is difficult to establish–unemotional listening coupled with patient refection to guide an idea through creative tension and on to an authentically shared idea, team intelligence, often improving it from the individual’s dream that sparked the imaginative process.

On the contrary, in a typical discussion, we make a decision about whether to launch the idea into the real world. There are distinct winners and losers. But there is no genuine dialogue (routinely dismissed as children’s bed-time fantasy hour with dear Mommy), and that rejection is a twenty-first-century storm that’s moving closer to our shores.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leading Them Through the Storm, Published by Business Management (75 years of Sound Business Advice)

Business Management read our book and wrote: “Stephen Crane’s circa-1900 short story The Open Boat offers a narrative about the importance of caring leadership.” We published selected parts of Crane’s short story in our Chapter Two (attached below) about the need for more emotional intelligence in 21st-century leadership:

The Captain, Cook, Correspondent and … the Oiler

When I read the short story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century tale stood out because it offered a sharp narrative about the importance of caring leadership.

The ship’s captain leads his crew after a terrible fall—the sinking of his steamer ship—to the safety of land after spending several days and nights struggling to survive in the frigid January water off the Florida coast.

The captain is injured. He can’t row, but he remains alert and patient, despite the dangerous waves pouring into the small lifeboat. As the crew endures nature’s violent winds and high waves, along with circling sharks and the fatigue of continuous rowing to shore, the captain always speaks in a low voice.

He offers directions with phrases such as “Keep ‘er a little more south, Billie,” or “Take her easy now, boys…. Don’t spend yourselves. If we have to run a surf, you’ll need all your strength, because we’ll sure have to swim for it. Take your time.”

The captain offers lookout-post ideas such as attempting to sail by using his overcoat at the end of an oar, which gives the rowers much needed rest. Crane describes what the captain creates through nurturing leadership as being “the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said it that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him.”

After days of dealing with the messy environment of a life-threatening sea (a picture that would look beautiful from land but would be an ugly image if you were sitting inside a tiny boat fighting not to drown), the men realize they need one another to survive the indifference of nature, which doesn’t care whether they survive or die.

Despite the stressful setting, the men don’t get angry or yell at one another. One night as a cold wave rushes across the bow, the captain says serenely, “Bail her, Cook.”

“All right, Captain,” says the cheerful cook.

The story reveals how caring leadership always has been available. Read literature or history or any religious tome, and you’ll spot it. The problem today is that we’ve belittled humane leadership, jamming it into the box of stereotypes by labeling it as childlike or naive. But it’s much harder to stay calm and nurturing during tragedies and falls when people need to come together to survive, and Crane’s conclusion offers more.

Out of the crew’s four men, the oiler is the most muscular, the healthiest, and the most energetic. So when the captain attempts a run to land through powerful shoreline waves, the oiler leaps off the boat just as it is being swamped, electing to swim away from the boat, alone, confident in his strength to beat nature, while the cook, correspondent, and captain stay near one another, communicating as they wrestle with the strong surf and life-threatening currents.

The injured captain uses one hand to cling to the back of the boat and continues to guide the crew to shore. When he spots the cook struggling, even though the cook has a life-ring around his core, the captain calls to him, “Turn over on your back, Cook! Turn over on your back and use the oar!”

The cook soon paddles and moves “ahead as if he were a canoe.”

Meanwhile, the correspondent is stuck in a rip current but can hear the captain calling for him to “Come to the boat!” which is parallel to the shore. As the correspondent responds and swims to the captain, “a large wave caught him and flung him with ease and supreme speed completely over the boat and far beyond it… [arriving] in water that reached only his waist.”

The captain’s subtle leadership from the moment of the ship’s sinking to arriving on land is never veneer. He is alert, looking out for the crew even when injured and psychologically dealing with a major fall in his profession (the rare shipwreck).

One of the story’s timeless themes centers around how humans think they can control nature or life’s successes or failures, but usually they can’t. Think about experiencing that sudden hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or blizzard. The best way to survive any of life’s complexities is to understand that people working together is much more powerful than people working alone, the way humans always have dealt with nature’s indifference regarding whether we live or die.

The cook, correspondent, and captain survive the arduous journey through the winter sea even though they’re the physically weakest members of the crew, while the oiler—the strongest—swims off alone and drowns.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kirkus Reviews Critics Recommend Giraffes of Technology to a Book by Harvard Professor, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles

We learned that our book was recommended by Kirkus Reviews to the leadership book (rooted in literature) by Harvard Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles; scroll down to “Similar Books Suggested by Our Critics,” to see “Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Leader”!

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:…/…/lives-of-moral-leadership/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Foreword by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE (published in Strategic Finance Review)


By JEFF Thomson,  President and CEO at Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

“At one of our first meetings, I deliberately sat on the floor and asked the seated staff to rise—a simple yet symbolic gesture. I wanted them to understand that I wasn’t standing above them, glaring down, commanding. My leadership would be focused on supporting them to become leaders themselves, so they could advance their professional lives during a frightening period (that bump) in their careers.”

That quote from Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First-­Century Leader, by Hubert Glover and John Curry, is Glover describing a pivotal early experience from his time heading up a subsidiary of ­PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that had been through three CEOs in nine months. Employees were fearful of losing their jobs, trust and motivation were at a minimum, and the moment called for a nurturing and authentic ­symbol of the leadership style to follow. Opening a book review with a quote from the book might seem an unusual way to begin, but this quote succinctly expresses all that I found provocative, symbolic, relevant, and inspiring about Glover and Curry’s book.

Why did they title it Giraffes of Technology? In 21st-Century business, especially in the United States, organizations and their leaders often embrace a top-down, autocratic style in the quest to achieve short-term gains (e.g., quarterly profits for shareholders). Yet many studies in the area of servant leadership show that a nurturing, empathetic, and values-oriented approach creates greater business value in the long run. According to the authors, the giraffe is the least offensive beast in the wild. It bears no ill will toward any other animal. They view the giraffe as a metaphor for a leader with a unique lookout post—one who incents followership rather than intimidating others in the herd to behave in a certain manner.

Glover’s symbolic yet authentic leadership moment at PwC epitomizes another behavior of the giraffe. At birth, the calf is dropped from its mother’s pouch six feet to the ground, building speed that severs the umbilical cord. All of us, in our personal and professional lives, fall from the womb, from the security of our homes and loved ones, or from the safety zone that often defines our day jobs. At that meeting with his staff, Glover not only showed he would be a genuine leader who would help the team work through a difficult period, but he also demonstrated that, by picking himself up, he would pick up the rest of the team and rise above the disruption from constant leadership changes and stress.

Glover and Curry organize Giraffes of Technology using six herbivore-inspired leadership traits that CEOs and managers must embrace over the next decade to create and enable sustainable organizations that enrich society. Today’s technology triggers a business environment that requires adapting to untidy change—change that isn’t easy but is necessary. The six chapters in the book are rooted in unique themes, or meta­phors, centered on the behaviors of the giraffe in the wild: acting as a lookout post to focus on the long run vs. the short run; communicating with others as gentle giants; dealing with a violent birth; moving forward to inspire a never-stop-learning mind-set; dealing with the predator lions who seek to disrupt change; and blending into new herds to enable diversity of people and thought.

It’s an inviting, engaging read. Glover and Curry combine a touch of Back to the Future with a sense of Animal Kingdom to provide an inspiring look at the kind of leaders businesses need to succeed in the 21st Century.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ebscohost and Giraffes of Technology Leadership

Nice to learn that our book’s review (by Kirkus Reviews) was selected by Ebscohost for academic and professional research:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment