Thinking, Leadership and the Supremacy of Emotions in Personal, Team, Organisational, Business and Economic Performance.

The Power and Supremacy of Emotions

Emotions have a powerful direct bearing on all human beings in their personal lives, social lives and professionals and occupational lives (leaders, presidents, ministers, entrepreneurs, professionals, students, managers), all teams, all organisations, all companies, all businesses, all leaders, all professionals and all economies in the following areas and ways. Emotions are the major gateways and barriers in the following areas

  1. Success
  2. Happiness
  3. Achievement
  4. Health
  5. Wellbeing-physical, physiological, emotional, cognitive, creative and spiritual
  6. Performance-personal, team, business, organisational, professional, business and economic
  7. Relationships
  8. Thinking
  9. Decision-making
  10. Focus, concentration, attention
  11. Behaviour and actions
  12. Perceptions
  13. Creativity and innovation
  14. Direction of human energy

It does not matter what else is involved in determining the outcome direction of a business, company, organisation, team, economy or nation, the human being is the central driving force without which nothing else will happen. If we were to take out all human beings from any country, no matter successfully economically it is, the natural forces of nature will take over and the economy will collapse like a deck of cards and everything will revert to the natural. An organisation may have the best of strategies and intentions (which are in fact producing by human beings), but those plans wont implement themselves; only human beings can implement the plans. The simplest life principle is that performance and results of any business, any company, any organisation, any institution and any economy is a reflection of,

  1. What the humans in that entity are doing,
  2. How the humans are doing what they are doing and
  3. What the humans are not doing.  

This basic life principles governs all life, driven by solely by pre-programmed built in responses in other animal species except in humans and other more evolved mammalian species including primates that can consciously direct action and behaviour and can learn new ways of doing things and can choose to do or not to.

The human being the central engine that drives human behaviour. This engine is very complex and enormous power and capacity and consists of three main brains that operate as one brain;

  1. The reptilian brain
  2. The mammalian brain
  3. The neo-mammalian brain

The reptilian brain is the centre of the reptilian behaviours, pre-programmed automatic responses such as aggression, rage, routinisation (basic routines behaviours) homing, re-enactment and marking territories.

The mammalian brain is primarily responsible for behaviours related to maternal care, the instinct to love and care for one’s own off-springs and to cultivate relationships and behaviours that ensures that the young one’s survive and grow into healthy adults.

The neo-mammalian brain is part of the brain responsible for higher cognition including language, self consciousness, self-direction, thinking and the ability to modify behaviour through learning. This is also responsible for the self-regulation of behaviour by humans.

The human behaviour in everyday life both in private and public, work and personal life is always a combination of behaviours controlled by the three brains even through as humans we have not been taught to consciously examine personal behaviour and categorise it according to which part of the brain is in charge of that particular behaviour. We exhibit reptilian behaviours many times during any day; we exhibit mammalian behaviours and we also exhibit neo-mammalian behaviours without even knowing it.

Emotions, cognition decision-making and behaviour

Humans have also two main parts of the brain, the limbic system (the central emotional engine is called the amygdala) which is responsible for emotional responses and behaviours (call it the motional brain) and the cortical brain which is responsible for cognition or the “thinking brain”. In every day life, humans talk a lot of the thinking brain in the past, it was believed that thinking was superior to feeling in the realm of performance and results. In fact the emotional brain was once considered to be a hinderance to the capacity of the thinking brain and hence terms such as “Don’t use emotions and “Don’t be emotional). This perception has not gone away in society even among to very top decision makers and executives and the results are very unfortunate. Neuroscientific discoveries and subsequent studies have clearly demonstrated at least three facts;

  1. Logical thinking is not possible without the emotional brain playing a part
  2. Emotions are extremely powerful all information is simultaneously transmitted to the thinking brain and the emotional brain and it reaches the emotional brain way before it registers in the thinking brain. The result is the emotional brain has the capacity to decide and act fast and quick without involving the thinking brain if the emotional brain concludes that a swift survival response is a must.
  3. While people including many top leaders, high level managers including high profile chief executives, presidents and top officials still believe in the supremacy of logic over emotion, they are making 90 percent of their decisions not only unconsciously but also based on emotion and only justifying the decisions logically. This is the default wiring of the human brain. The result is that many of our decisions are faulty even though they sound great and logical. The human brain, without conscious guidance, takes many short cuts in making decisions, making decisions mainly based on assumptions and preference and past associations rather than logic and case-specific factual information. You like or don’t someone within a fractions of seconds of seeing the person even before the person says anything on flimsy reasons including minute semblance with someone close to you that you already like or don’t like. You conclude that someone is not good at something even without any factual proof of evidence. The brain is excellent at categorical approaches where it puts people and things into categories and then proceed to make judgements of specific individual objects and individuals based on the categories in which it has put the person.

The Universality of Emotional Control in Business and Economics

Emotions Direct Thinking More than Thinking Directs Emotions

By design, the emotional brain has more power to direct thinking that think has power to direct emotions. In other words, the emotional brain can think and act by itself without the involvement of the thinking brain whereas it is impossible for the thinking brain to act without involving the emotional brain unless in circumstances of brain impairment. This is very critical as the emotional brain is primarily involved in survival. This is a critical piece especially for decision-makers to know, but also the easiest to ignore, dismiss and ridicule. Many decision makers struggle to accept that all normal human beings make 90% of the decisions emotionally and unconsciously and rationalise it with facts and information instead of the other way round. This also means that most of the decisions human beings make are less that optimal; they may be good decisions but not necessarily the best possible.

Emotions and the Individual Human Being

Emotions are central to the life of every individual being, with the greatest contribution and impact to success, happiness, achievement, health, wellbeing, performance and results. In other words; emotions;

  1. Emotions direct our thinking
  2. Emotions create our sense of happiness and wellbeing
  3. Emotions impact our physiological, physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual health
  4. Emotions have a strong influence in how we make decisions and consequently our responses, behaviours and actions
  5. Emotions impact our mental and physical performance and hence the results that we get
  6. Emotions are central to our social life including relationships and sense of social wellbeing
  7. Emotion are central to our long term success or failure
  8. Emotions determine our capacity and our willingness to share resources and to contribute to common goals
  9. Emotions have a powerful impact on our focus, concentration and attention
  10. Emotions direct our energy

This is important because the same individual in private life is the same individuals who is the building block of every organisation, business, society, community and economy. In other words;

  1. All leaders are human beings under the influence of the same emotions that affect everyone else
  2. All managers are human beings under the influence of the same emotionsl that affect everyone else
  3. All professionals are the same human beings under the influence of the same emotions in a more or less that same way
  4. All employees are human beings under the influence of the same emotions that affect everyone else.

The Primacy of the Emotional Quality of the Individual

The emotional quality of the individual (also called the emotional character), not anything else, is the most important determinant of the success, performance, results and direction of any business, organisation, team, economy. This is contrary to the traditional thinking which puts academic qualifications as the most important success factor in business, organisational and economic success. This is also contrary to the completely flawed Africa’s world view that the possession of natural resources and environmental advantages are the critical success factors for economies and continents even when ground reality disproves of it.

There are four main components of that determine the emotional quality of an individual

  1. Emotional Capacity
  2. Emotional Capabilities
  3. Emotional Ecology
  4. Emotional Disposition

Emotional capacity relates to the degree to which an individual is able to withstand factors that trigger negative emotional responses such as stress and other negative emotions such as

  • Selfishness
  • Greed
  • Frustration
  • Hate
  • Jealousy
  • Anger and rage
  • Fear
  • Timidity
  • Cowardice
  •  Hopelessness
  • Faithlessness
  • Grandiosity
  • Pomposity

Emotional capabilities relates to the abilities to understand, manage, control, direct and use emotions productively to achieve personal and group goals in the areas of performance, results, relationships, problem solving, decision-making and achieving goals.

Emotional ecology relates to the emotional and cognitive impacts of one’s behaviours, thoughts and emotions on others. This is relates to concepts and constructs such as empathy and integrity and moral values. One may act to gain materially or relationally in a transaction, but in a way that enhances one’s own success, happiness, achievement and wellbeing but at the direct expense of success, happiness, achievement and wellbeing of others directly involved in the transaction and also those who can be indirectly affected by such behaviour, thinking and emotional expression. A leader’s well-meaning words, emotional expression or behaviour towards a subordinate may deliver his intended results, but may have a negative emotional and cognitive impact on the subordinate, triggering some negative emotional and cognitive reactions that may start a domino effect that may impact the subordinate’s family.

Emotional dispositions are largely enduring predictable emotional orientations such as hope, optimism, faith, kindness and pessimism. Pessimism can be dangerous but, used appropriately, can be beneficial although in general pessimism is linked to low levels of success, happiness, achievement and wellbeing.

Emotions in Business, Organisational and Economic Performance

There are three principles that define the role of emotions in business, organisational and economic performance.

  1. Businesses, organisations and economies are built by emotional human beings, are run by emotional human beings to serve emotional human beings.
  2. Emotions, not logic, are the most powerful decision drivers in all human beings regardless of levels of education, position, occupation or gender
  3. The first, most significant and most powerful reactions in human beings are always emotional responses.
  4. Human beings pay the greatest attention to their emotional needs; all functional needs lead to a certain emotional need.
  5. The ultimate goal of any business is to fulfil certain emotional needs; in other words all business is a trade in emotional values.
  6. The state of any economy, its performance, its results and its direction are all driven by an emotional currency. Corruption is driven by emotions of greed, low self-confidence, sense of powerlessness, selfishness and lack of empathy among other emotions
  7. The minute to minute, day to day performance and results of individuals, teams and organisations are under the control of the emotional states of the individuals, teams, organisations, businesses and economies as well as the emotional environment in which the individuals operate.
  8. Frustrated employees at personal, team or organisational levels cannot perform at the same level as high motivated, inspired, upbeat employees, just as hopeless citizens cannot be expected to make any meaningful contributions to economic performance and results.
  9. Many developing economies seek foreign investment to boost economic growth. They try to lure investors with the logics of advantages such as presence of abundant natural resources and endowments, high returns on the investment and other traditional benefits of investing in the given country. However, it is no secret that investor are not lure lured by any logical and factual prospects in the absence of the emotional factors of which confidence is critical.
  10. The quality of work including the quality of products is also linked to the emotional states in which the individuals concerned are when they produce the products or deliver the services
  11. Customers buy emotionally and then justify their purchases logically.
  12. Human beings are more persuaded emotionally than they are persuaded logically

These 12 pointers are only the tip of the iceberg, but they highlight why paying more attentions to emotions, their management and their use is the most powerful ingredient in effective problem solving, shifting performance, turning around situations, transforming results and unleashing human potential for higher level business, organisational and economic performance.  

How Well Have Emotions Been Embraced as an Area of Serious Attention in Leadership, Management, Organisations, Businesses and Economies?  

Emotional and Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman reknowned for calling mankind’s attention to emotions and their sweeping roles in virtual all areas of life as well as to their supremacy to traditional intellect as measured by Intelligence Quotient. In his early publications, Goleman illustrated through evidence based writings why emotions matter in success and performance as well as some specific mechanisms by which emotions control or at least influence levels of human achievement, wellbeing, success, health and success. Daniel Goleman introduced the term emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) as an independent complement of IQ, also arguing that EQ can be learned and improved. Since his work, many scholars and experts have emerged in the same area and emotional intelligence has been introduced in almost all human disciplines such as leadership, management, marketing and sales.

Even when some studies suggesting that leadership success is directly linked to the emotional intelligence of those in positions of leadership and even when it is said emotional intelligence can be improved through learning, there is no evidence of massive uptake and embrace of emotional intelligence by those in positions of leadership. There are many possible reasons among them;

  1. First, it is possible that many in position of leadership may struggle why they need to pay attention to developing their emotional intelligence when they rose to those positions of leadership without investing in developing the emotional intelligence in the first place.
  2. Second many in positions of leadership may also argue why they need emotional intelligence when their companies and organisations are doing fine or doing well without them investing in emotional intelligence? Many leaders in business, organisations and economies do not consider average results as anything that should concern them; they do not deeply value the principle of continuous growth and improvement even when most preach the mantras of excellence and innovation.
  3. Third, the word emotional intelligence has some negative connotations to many people especially those of strong academic inclinations. In the traditional thinking, people are born intelligent and talking about improving intelligence gives an impression of not being intelligent, which sounds an insult to the academic, the manager, the chief executive or the leader who got to where she is on the basis of academic qualifications that denote intelligence. Besides, the world is still in a weakness culture where learning, training and development are associated with fixing weaknesses and not to enhance performance and results. The result is that leaders and managers, except for the humble and open minded, will unconsciously resist any suggestion to invest in learning about emotions and in developing emotions.
  4. Many of the experts working in the area of emotional intelligence are have intellectual knowledge of the field and can teach basic awareness courses in emotions, which they call emotional intelligence, but they lack the depth, practical application perspective and the skills to “train” and do more practical work in emotions. They help in spreading awareness but they lack the ability to work with individuals the same way a doctor works with a patient to bring about real emotional changes. Teaching others the “theoretical what” of emotions and emotional intelligence is one thing, dealing with the how in a practical sense is another thing. The difference is big.


Given the supremacy of emotions over human cognition and how emotions bar or unlock performance and results at personal, team, organisational, business and economic levels, major changes in performance and results are often preceded by major shifts in emotional disposition. In other words, creating emotional changes is a critical part of solving problems and enhancing performance. The call to action on paying attention is growing louder especially for leaders. How many will heed to the call?

©Simon Bere, 2019

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