1st Edition

Subliminal Leadership Why It Is as Important as Emotional Intelligence

By Thomas Frankl Copyright 2024
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    Understanding the power of subliminal influence makes or breaks leaders. What is it that subliminally motivates people to give their best, not just what’s in their job description? How do you build an outstanding team? (Spoiler: it’s not just by putting the best people in a team.) The answer lies in the power of subliminal influence. This book explains in a clear and accessible way this important, yet little known and understood, area of psychology and leadership.

    As Emotional Intelligence helped managers and leaders to understand the importance of empathy in the workplace, Subliminal Leadership takes us to the next level by explaining how influence through non-verbal communication mostly happens below the threshold of our conscious awareness: subliminal forms of body language and communication which influence other people's attitudes, thinking and behavior – and which may boost, or undermine a leader's authority, the performance of teams or the quality of key customer relationships. Readers will learn how we unconsciously communicate and how we positively or negatively influence other people in the process. Understanding subliminal influence will help people in, or aspiring towards, leadership positions to build trust, understand others’ emotions, make better decisions, and strengthen professional relationships. Based on recent scientific research in disciplines as diverse as psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, medicine, neuroscience, and management studies, the book offers a breakthrough, multidisciplinary approach to influence and leadership. 

    This book is for everyone interested in the psychological, biological, and medical dimensions of leadership.

    About the Author



    1 Leadership in context

    Leadership in organizations

    Day-to-day leadership

    2 Leadership as social influence

    Influence, leadership, and evolutionary biology

    Making sense of the world








    3 Brain, mind, and body

    The mind–brain connection

    The mind–body connection

    Latent talent

    4 The underworld of the subliminal

    Character assassinations

    Smelling memories

    Fright or flight

    5 Influence, emotions, and self-leadership

    Homo sapiens vs. Homo corporaticus

    Amygdala hijack and the fear of flying computers

    Fear, risk-taking, and innovation

    Buckle up and enjoy the ride

    Emotional framing

    6 We communicate more than we think

    Every body communicates

    No glossing over glossophobia

    The power of gaze

    7 Empathy revisited

    The busy sidewalk challenge

    Random acts of influence

    Reading the room

    8 Everyone is an influencer

    Botox and the power of embodied emotions

    Dressing the part

    Touching experiences

    A face for radio

    Beauty: More than just in the eyes of the beholder

    9 Emotional contagion

    The 1962 Tanzania laughing epidemic

    First olfactory impressions count

    A good nose for bad health

    The persistent smell of aggression

    Will you join us for our smellwalk?

    10 The power of humor, trust, and charisma

    Humor, a universal language

    Funny speeches and other ordeals

    Trust – the social superglue

    Trust me, I’m smiling

    Charisma: A gift from the gods?

    Making it stick: The secrets of powerful speech

    11 Leading with guts

    Credit to the roomers

    Gut health and gut decisions

    The power of kraut-based computing

    12 The intuitive leader

    All quiet in Anacostia

    Making intuitive decisions work

    Steve Jobs and the dork problem

    Intuitive farming

    13 Connecting brains

    Spooky action at a close distance

    The leader as entrainer

    Brain synchronization and team performance

    14 Toxic leadership: An organizational spectrum disease

    The productive narcissist

    What makes a psychopath?

    The oxymoronic successful psychopath

    Welcome to our Jurassic organization

    Is the world in need of toxic leaders?

    Nutric leadership: An antidote

    Ethics in action


    Kindness and modesty

    Honesty and candor

    A positive mindset

    Strength and decisiveness

    Health and energy

    Vision and empathy

    15 Epilogue



    Thomas Frankl had senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies and the United Nations. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Munich and has been teaching at Swiss business schools and universities for over ten years. He co-founded three companies and is the Chairman of Ruti Group which owns and operates a 800-pupil school in Nyamata, Rwanda.