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Emotional intelligence and effective leadership

Benjamin Palmer
Organizational Psychology Research Unit, Neuropsychology Laboratory,
Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Melissa Walls
Organizational Psychology Research Unit, Neuropsychology Laboratory,
Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Zena Burgess
Organizational Psychology Research Unit, Neuropsychology Laboratory,
Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Con Stough
Organizational Psychology Research Unit, Neuropsychology Laboratory,
Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

Keywords employees, and makes them ``feel’’ at work

Intelligence , Effectiveness , Introduction (Goleman, 1998b). Today’s effective
Empirical study, Leadership,
During the last decade interpersonal skills leadership skills have been described to
have become more integral to effective depend, in part, on the understanding of
Abstract leadership (Goleman, 1998a). Where leaders emotions and the abilities associated with EI
Emotional intelligenc e has were once seen to control, plan and inspect (Cooper and Sawaf, 1997; Goleman, 1998a;
become increasingl y popular as a
the overall running of an organization, in Ryback, 1998).
measure for identifyin g potentially
effective leaders, and as a tool for today’s more service-oriented industries, Exactly how, and to what extent EI
developin g effective leadershi p leadership roles are also to motivate and accounts for effective leadership is currently
skills. Despite this popularity , inspire others, to foster positive attitudes at unknown. Despite much interest in relating
however, there is little empirical EI to effective leadership there is little
work, and to create a sense of contribution
research that substantiate s the
efficacy of emotional intelligence and importance with and among employees research published that has explicitly
in these areas. The aim of the (Hogan et al., 1994). These contemporary examined this relationship. Popular claims
present paper was to explore the leadership requirements have placed new regarding the extent to which EI accounts for
relationshi p between emotional demands on leadership training programs to effective leadership skills are at present
intelligenc e and effective
develop these skills in evolving leaders and misleading. For example, one search firm
leadership. Emotional intelligenc e
was assesse d by a modified on organizations involved in leadership claims ``Emotional Intelligence accounts for
version of the Trait Meta Mood selection to identify them in potential more than 85 percent of exceptional
Scale in 43 participant s employed candidates (Fulmer, 1997). As a result, performance in top leaders’’ (HayGroup,
in management roles. Effective
research has been exploring the underlying 2000). This finding is unlikely ± there has
leaders were identifie d as those
who displayed a transformationa l attributes and behaviours of leaders who never been a psychological variable that has
rather than transactiona l successfully perform these contemporary made any such prediction in a century of
leadershi p style as measured by leadership roles in order to identify research in applied psychology (Mayer et al.,
the multifacto r leadership leadership selection and training criteria for forthcoming).
questionnaire . Emotional
intelligenc e correlated with the recruitment and development of effective Despite the misleading nature of such
several component s of leaders (Church and Waclawski, 1998; Pratch claims, popular literature has sought to
transformationa l leadershi p and Jacobowitz, 1998; Ross and Offerman, highlight the utility a priori, of this potential
suggesting that it may be an 1997; Sternberg, 1997). relationship, and drawn important
important componen t of effective
One variable that has recently gained theoretical links between EI and leadership
leadership. In particular emotional
intelligenc e may account for how much popularity as a potential underlying performance. Knowledge regarding exactly
effective leaders monitor and attribute of effective leadership is the how EI relates to leadership may lead to
respond to subordinate s and make construct of emotional intelligence (EI) significant advances in leadership training
them feel at work. and development programs, and the ability to
(Sosik and Megerian, 1999). EI is described as
a set of abilities that refer in part to how select potentially effective leaders. The aim of
effectively one deals with emotions both the present study was to explicitly examine
within oneself and others (Salovey and the relationship between EI and effective
Received: April 2000
Revised/accepted: Mayer, 1990). It has been proposed that in leadership.
September 2000 leadership, dealing effectively with emotions The transactional/transformational
may contribute to how one handles the needs leadership model (Bass, 1985; Bass and
Leadership & Organization of individuals, how one effectively motivates Avolio, 1990; 1994) and the ``ability’’ model of
Development Journal
22/1 [2001 ] 5±10
The research register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
# MCB University Press
[ISSN 0143-7739]

Benjamin Palmer, EI by Mayer and Salovey (1997) provided an University Center for Innovation and
Melissa Walls, Zena Burgess intuitive basis for which to examine this Enterprise Programs (CIE). Of the sample,
and Con Stough relationship. The ability model of EI is the
Emotional intelligence and 33 percent held higher management
effective leadership most theoretically well clarified, being positions, 30 percent were middle level
Leadership & Organization developed over a series of articles appearing managers and 27 percent held lower
Development Journal in the 1990s (Mayer and Salovey, 1993; 1997; management positions (10 percent of subjects
22/1 [2001] 5±10
Salovey and Mayer, 1990). This framework did not classify themselves as falling within
conceptualizes EI as intelligence in the these categories). The average time employed
traditional sense consisting of a conceptually in these current positions was 36 months.
related set of mental abilities to do with
emotions and the processing of emotional Materials
information. Mayer and Salovey (1997) have Modified Trait Meta Mood Scale
fully operationalized EI according to a four- The ability to monitor and manage emotions
branch hierarchical model from basic in oneself and others was assessed by items
psychological processes to higher more taken directly and adapted from the Trait
psychologically integrated processes. These Meta Mood Scale (TMMS) (Salovey et al.,
four core abilities of the model are further 1995). The TMMS is a self-report measure of
operationalized to include four specific skills individual differences in the ability to reflect
related to each, forming a 4 £ 4 or 16 on (or monitor) and manage one’s emotions.
ability-based model of emotional intelligence The TMMS is a reliable scale (full scale
(as diagrammed by Mayer and Salovey, 1997, reliability ¬ = 0.82) and provides a valid
p. 11). index of what it purports to measure (Salovey
In most organizational contexts, et al., 1995).
transformational as compared to For the current study the ability to monitor
transactional leadership is considered a and manage emotions in others was assessed
more effective leadership style and is by adapting items from each of the sub-scales
consistently found to promote greater of the TMMS. The ability to monitor
organizational performance (Lowe and emotions in oneself and others was assessed
Kroeck, 1996). In the present study effective by 18 items pertaining to ``oneself’’ and 12
leaders were considered to be those who adapted items pertaining to ``others’’ from the
reported themselves as having a attention and clarity sub-scales of the TMMS.
transformational rather than transactional In order to make the interpretation of results
leadership style (as measured by the easier these sub-scales were combined to
multifactorial leadership questionnaire form a single sub-scale labelled emotional
(MLQ) (Avolio et al., 1995)). Transformational monitoring. The ability to manage emotions
leadership is more emotion-based compared both within oneself and others was assessed
to transactional leadership and involves by five items pertaining to the ``self’’ and six
heightened emotional levels (Yammarino and items pertaining to ``others’’ taken and
Dubinsky, 1994). It is predicted that there will adapted from the mood repair sub-scale of the
be a stronger relationship between EI and
TMMS. Again, to make the interpretation of
transformational leadership than between EI
results easier this sub-scale was labelled
and transactional leadership.
emotional management. In total, the
If differences in EI were to be found
modified TMMS (mTMMS) used in the
between transformational and transactional
current study comprised 41 items to which
leaders it could be argued that they would
participants respond on a five-point Likert
most likely been seen in the higher, more
scale ranging from (1) strongly disagree to (5)
complex skills of EI. The ability to monitor
strongly agree. This 41-item scale has
emotions in oneself and others and the ability
demonstrated satisfactory internal
to manage emotions in oneself and others are
consistency (¬ = 0.73) which was comparable
claimed to be later developing and
to the TMMS from which it had been derived.
psychologically more complex abilities of EI
(Mayer and Salovey, 1997). The present study
The multifactor leadership questionnaire
measured EI in terms of these two abilities.
Leadership style was assessed with the MLQ
(Avolio et al., 1995). This self-report
Method questionnaire consists of 45 items relating to
Participants the frequency with which the subject
The sample comprised 43 participants (ten displays a range of leader behaviours. Five
females and 33 males) with a mean age of 37.5 sub-scales assess transformational
years. These participants were past and leadership behaviours and three sub-scales
current students of the Swinburne assess transactional leadership behaviours.
Benjamin Palmer, Scores on both the idealized influence
Melissa Walls, Zena Burgess Results sub-scales (charisma) significantly correlated
and Con Stough
Emotional intelligence and The means and standard deviations (SDs) with scores on the emotional monitoring scale
effective leadership calculated for the mTMMS and the MLQ are of the mTMMS (r = 0.44, p < 0.01); however,
Leadership & Organization presented in Table I. The means and SDs for they did not correlate with the emotional
Development Journal
22/1 [2001] 5±10 each of the variables in the MLQ were management scale (r = 0.27 NS) (idealized
consistent with previous research (Avolio influence active and behaviour respectively).
et al., 1995). Intercorrelations among the Inspirational motivation was moderately
variables are shown in Table II. correlated with both the emotional monitoring
It was predicted that transformational (r = 0.42, p < 0.01) and emotional management
leaders would be higher in EI than (r = 0.37, p < 0.05) scales. Similarly,
transactional leaders. This hypothesis was individualized consideration also correlated
not supported; neither total transformational with the emotional monitoring and
nor total transactional leadership ratings management (r = 0.55, p < 0.01, r = 0.35, p < 0.05,
demonstrated significant correlations with respectively) scales. Intellectual stimulation
either the emotional monitoring or emotional did not correlate significantly with either of
management scales of the mTMMS. However, the EI scales. Finally there was a significant
there were significant correlations between correlation between the contingent reward
some components of transformational sub-scale of transactional leadership and the
leadership and the EI subscales. emotional monitoring scale (r = 0.41, p < 0.01).

Table I
Means and standard deviations of the mTMMS and MLQ
MLQ: total transformational 3.10 0.63
Idealized influence (attributed) 3.02 0.54
Idealized influence (behavior) 3.10 0.65
Inspirational motivation 3.29 0.58
Intellectual stimulation 3.14 0.48
Individual consideration 3.22 0.44
MLQ: total transactional 1.85 0.48
Contingent reward 2.91 0.60
Management by exception (active) 1.60 0.77
Management by exception (passive) 1.18 0.58
MTMMS: emotional monitoring 112.56 10.86
Emotional management 37.38 3.44

Table II
Correlations among mTMMS and MLQ variables
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1 TT ±
2 IFA 0.67** ±
3 IFB 0.86** 0.37** ±
4 IM 0.85** 0.50** 0.73** ±
5 iS 0.51** 0.16 0.35** 0.17 ±
6 IC 0.86** 0.52** 0.70** 0.74** 0.33* ±
7 Ttr 0.52** ±0.07 0.24 0.07 0.04 0.18 ±
8 CR 0.56** 0.24 0.57** 0.49** 0.20 0.57** 0.53** ±
9 MA ±0.05 ±0.01 0.01 ±0.09 ±0.03 ±0.10 0.74** 0.09 ±
10 MP ±0.25 0.37* ±0.12 ±0.26 ±0.08 ±0.10 0.51** ±0.07 0.07 ±
11 EM 0.26 0.44** 0.44** 0.42** 0.27 0.55** ±0.07 0.41** ±0.22 ±0.14 ±
12 EMA 0.13 0.27 0.19 0.37* 0.16 0.35* ±0.13 0.23 ±0.30 0.00 0.41** ±
* **
Notes: = p < 0.05; = p < 0.01; TT = total transformational; IFA = idealized influence (active); IFB = idealized
influence (behavior); IM = inspirational motivation; IS = intellectual stimulation; IC = individualized consideration;
Ttr = total transactional; CR = contingent reward; MA = management by exception (active); MP = management
by exception (passive); EM-EIQ = emotional monitoring; EMA-EIQ emotional management

Benjamin Palmer, emotions or feelings: for example monitoring
Melissa Walls, Zena Burgess Discussion and detecting feelings from subordinates
and Con Stough such as not being appreciated for one’s work,
Emotional intelligence and While there was insufficient evidence to
effective leadership support the hypothesis that transformational and managing their emotions, perhaps by
Leadership & Organization leaders are higher in EI than transactional providing positive feedback so as to elevate
Development Journal leaders, there were significant relationships feelings of not being appreciated. The ability
22/1 [2001] 5±10 to monitor and manage emotions may be part
between selected components of
transformational leadership and the EI of the underlying attributes that manifest the
sub-scales. Specifically, the inspirational individual consideration component of
motivation and individualized consideration effective transformational leadership.
components of transformational leadership Intellectual stimulation was not found to
were significantly correlated with both the correlate with either of the EI sub-scales.
ability to monitor and manage emotions in However, this does not mean that this
oneself and others. transformational leadership component is
Those leaders who considered themselves not related to EI. Intellectual stimulation
to motivate and inspire subordinates to work refers to the way transformational leaders
towards common goals (inspirational stimulate their subordinates by presenting
motivation), reported that they monitored them with challenging new ideas and
and managed emotions both within different ways to tackle old problems (Bass,
themselves and others. Similarly, those 1985). This component of transformational
leaders who rated themselves as paying leadership requires creative thinking and
special attention to the achievement and flexible planning (Avolio et al., 1991).
developmental needs of subordinates Creative thinking and flexible planning have
(individualized consideration) also rated both been associated with the EI construct,
themselves as more likely to monitor and specifically with the ability to utilize and
manage emotions both within themselves assimilate emotions in thought (Salovey and
and in others. Mayer, 1990). Intellectual stimulation may be
The transformational component more reliant on other aspects of EI not
``charisma’’ measured by the idealized assessed in the present study.
influence sub-scales of the MLQ correlated There was a significant positive
significantly and moderately with the ability correlation between the contingent reward
to monitor emotions within oneself and component of transactional leadership and
others. Charisma and inspirational the ability to monitor emotions in oneself and
motivation describe transformational leaders others. However, contingent reward also
who motivate and inspire their subordinates correlated significantly with total
to work towards common goals (Bass, 1985). transformational leadership and several of
The present results suggest that one of the the transformational leadership components
underlying competencies of these skills may including idealized influence, inspirational
be the ability to monitor emotions both motivation and individual consideration.
within oneself and others. In addition, Similar findings have been reported in
inspirational motivation appears to depend previous research (Druskat, 1994). This
also on the ability to manage emotions. suggests a possible limitation of the MLQ:
The ability to monitor and manage perhaps ``contingent reward’’ overlaps
emotions were both significantly related to considerably with the transformational
the individualized consideration component leadership components. The factorial validity
of transformational leadership. Individual of the MLQ has been questioned in previous
consideration describes leaders who pay studies (e.g. Carless, 1998).
special attention to the achievement and Collectively, the findings of the current
development needs of their subordinates. It study suggest that EI as measured by the
involves, for example, sensing when a ability to monitor and manage emotions
subordinate needs a more or less challenging within oneself and others may be an
task, or when a subordinate requires underlying competency of transformational
feedback (Yammarino et al., 1993). leadership. However, this notion should be
Sensing when a subordinate needs a more approached with caution. The results are
or less challenging task may depend on the exploratory in nature and require
ability to monitor emotions, i.e. monitoring replication with a larger, more diverse
when a subordinate is bored or frustrated leadership sample, particularly as this was
with a given task. Similarly, sensing when a the first time that the TMMS had been
subordinate requires feedback may first adapted to include items that assessed self-
involve monitoring and detecting the perceived ability to monitor and manage
existence of emotions that suggest this need, emotions in others. An effective leadership
but in this case, also managing their sample from a diverse range of industries
Benjamin Palmer, across both private and public sectors may programs to enhance leadership
Melissa Walls, Zena Burgess indicate whether EI is more or less effectiveness. The knowledge gained from
and Con Stough important to effective leadership within research into EI and leadership may increase
Emotional intelligence and
effective leadership certain industries or at different leadership the understanding of effective leadership and
Leadership & Organization levels. For example, it has been proposed help produce powerful tools for the selection,
Development Journal that EI is an important underlying attribute and training and development of leaders,
22/1 [2001] 5±10 of top level leadership (Cooper and Sawaf, potentially enhancing organizational
1997). Future research should examine the climates and performance.
relationship between EI and effective
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