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Emotional Intelligence in Leadership


This paper explores the concept of emotional intelligence and the effects on leadership. The articles discussed in the paper analyzed the different array of qualities in emotional intelligence towards leadership. Emotional intelligence is a way of behaving and acting towards situations and people. Leadership styles must adapt to the situations and exhibit empathy at times to support the perception of caring. Through empathy leadership will exhibit thoughtfulness and caring in the eyes of the employee. Empathy is an emotion that human’s exhibit and how they exhibit the emotion in group’s settings can and will affect a leader’s perception.

Men and women make up leadership in all facets of industry, but which one is better? Does it matter when all the variables are equal?

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Emotional intelligence and the influence over effective leadership styles go hand-in-hand in successfully leading individuals. In today’s growing industry the cry for effective leaders is immense, so to become an effective leader emotional intelligence must be understood.

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Leadership is in everyone’s life whether personal or business and to be effective a person must be diverse in an I.Q. – Intelligence sense and E.Q. – Emotional sense. To understand emotional intelligence an understanding of the emotional intelligence theories development by Daniel Goleman will be analyzed. A person must understand what competencies make a great leader, so the relationship of a great leader versus a poor leader is analyzed. Facts are considered towards leadership styles and emotional intelligence from a male and female leadership stance.

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Which sex is better at emotional intelligence and will that make either more effective in leadership?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Many psychologists have identified emotional intelligence or versions of emotional awareness over the years (Goleman, 2012). The research began with analyzing people and their intelligence levels based on cognitive attributes (Norwack, 2012). A Brief History. According to Goleman, the earliest research began with Robert Thorndike in 1937 (Goleman, 2012). Thorndike began exploring the emotion concept of psychology and how the affects the theory social intelligence (Goleman, 2012). From Thorndike to David Wechsler delivered additional theories on emotion and how it plays in professional progress (Goleman, 2012). Wechsler named three essential elements to his theory – affective, personal, and social factors contribute to a person’s ability to succeed in life (Goleman, 2012).

The next significant progress in the theory of emotional intelligence came from Howard Gardner in 1983 (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). Gardner proposed a model of “multiple intelligence” (Goleman, 2012). His “multiple intelligence” model depicts seven kinds of intelligence that incorporated two personal varieties; knowing one’s inner world and social adeptness (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). Gardner developed the model and Peter Salovery and John Mayer defined emotional intelligence in terms of the ability to monitor and regulate one’s own and others feelings and to use feelings to guide thought and action (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). The last piece to the history segment is Daniel Goleman’s addition to the emotional intelligence psychological realm. Goleman identifies five basic emotional and social competencies (Goleman, 2012):

* Self -Awareness
* Self -Regulation
* Motivation
* Empathy
* Social Skills

These five competencies are analyzed to rate successful leaders further in the paper. Goleman helped develop the application of this theory to leadership styles and principles (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004).

Competence of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

There are two types of competence models identified in performing exceptionally as an effective leader. The two competencies must be understood to gain a more precise understanding of the contribution of emotional competence has in the leadership role (Walter, Humphrey & Cole, 2012).

Threshold Competencies. The first competency is the threshold competencies; this model addresses those that people need to perform the job. These are the minimal skills needed to carry out the tasks associated with given position. Most organizational competence models fit into this category (Walter, Humphrey & Cole, 2012) Distinguishing competencies. The next competency focuses on the exceptional leader. Distinguishing competencies are those that allow the effective leader to stand out from the poor leaders (Goleman, 2012). This is usually the traits of an outstanding leader who uses vision as an example to bring a company out of a slump (Walter, Humphrey & Cole, 2012). The distinguishing competencies are qualities needed to perform superbly (Walter, Humphrey & Cole, 2012). Case Study: Effective Leadership. According to Goleman, a study of emotional competence in leadership was performed at Hay/McBer in Boston by Lyle Spencer Jr. with Wei Chen (Goleman, 2012).

The analysis of more than three hundred executive level leaders from 15 global companies showed that six emotional competencies were distinguished from the average (Goleman, 2012). The competencies consist of influence, team leadership, organizational awareness, self confidence, the drive to achieve and leadership (Goleman, 2012). Why are these qualities important in leadership? From a leadership standpoint Emotional Intelligence will support or determine a leader’s success (Dainton and Zelley, 2011). The Study. Warwick & Nettelbeck discussed a study completed by David McClelland of exemplarity leaders and the competencies they possessed (2004). The strengths in a wide spectrum of emotional intelligence ranged from self-awareness and motivation to social awareness and social skill. The only emotional intelligence capability not represented was self regulation, but adaptability, from this cluster, was 57% more common in the effective leaders (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004).

Would women make better leaders?

The next portion covers the effectives of empathy in leadership. Goleman addresses empathy as one of his five points of emotional intelligence. Over the years many papers have been written about women and their ability to be natural nurtures (Anonymous, 2008). Perhaps in a person’s personal life women are more empathetic then men. Significant research performed on the concept of women possessing a natural ability to be empathetic. When empathy is observed in the workplace or by a leader who has the upper hand men or women? Sex Differences. According to Goleman, men and women are compared in many ways (2012). He also goes on to describe the similar traits men and women poses and those traits cause behavioral characteristics. The results from test data gives a bell curve pattern when graphed and allows psychologist to review the similarities and differences between the sexes (Goleman, 2012). The idea behind specific sex abilities to be better at leadership based on their individual design would be acceptable.

The idea that a specific sex is better just because they were born with female or male ingenuity is difficult to prove (Norwack, 2012). Data around empathy. Many studies are conducted and have been conducted by psychologist around the world with mixed feelings around which sex is better at a specific subtopic (Greenberg, 2005). Leadership uses many concepts and one concept in particular is empathy. Women in western culture tend to develop this naturally due to the way western culture influences women (Greenberg, 2005). Greenberg, goes on to describe the western woman as one of empathy and describes tests and experiences women have over men (2005). Profile of nonverbal sensitivity. At Harvard two professors tackled a challenge to solve the age old question are women more empathetic than men (Goleman, 2012) Professor Rosenthal and Judith Hall performed a verity of psychological test to measure the level of feelings.

Nonverbal sensitivity to emotional reaction is the name of the test (Greenberg, 2005). Dr. Rosenthal film clips are filtered so that the person watching the emotional body language is seen and the words cannot be heard (Greenberg, 2005). Rosenthal and Hall found women performed better on average than men at guessing the people in the clips emotion (Greenberg, 2005). Micro-emotions. Greenberg states people leak small emotions called micro-emotions (2005). The emotions allow people to express body language and tone of voice in small increments to the receiver of the signal (Greenberg, 2005). People who work in law enforcement or interrogation tend to illustrate this ability so that they may sense if a person is truthful or lying (Greenberg, 2005). Sex differences tend not to portray a strong advantage in this category. Practice is a definite must to hone and build the skill to better understand situations around emotional intelligence (Greenberg, 2005). Empathetic accuracy.

The ability to sense and understand people’s thoughts through their feelings is defined by Goleman as empathetic accuracy (2012). Goleman experimental methods assess empathic accuracy and illustrate emotional response by asking people to depict an emotion of someone they see (Goleman, 2012). Goleman conducted a range of test involving test subjects. The test subjects watched conversation and evaluated people and attempted to figure out their feelings (Goleman, 2012). Psychologist than compared the result against the emotional person’s own narrative. Goleman went on to describe women did not perform better than men in a series experiments (2012).

There was no evidence of a female intuition advantage and Goleman goes on to associate that women have a distinct willingness to be empathetic. Greenberg describes women as wanting to be empathetic and men not so much (2005). Which sex is better with Emotional Intelligence? Based on the data above the so called sex difference toward empathy would argue that men are latent in their ability for empathy, but less motivated to be empathic (Greenberg, 2005). So much that men tend to see themselves in terms of a tough guy. Men have less motivation to seem sensitive in most cultures because that seen as a sign of weakness (Goleman, 2012).

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

When reading different articles about Emotional Intelligence the question purposed by people is “why is Emotional Intelligence important?” (Norwack, 2012). Emotional Intelligence is important element to build strong leadership (Norwack, 2012). The best way to explain Emotional Intelligence in general is through three premises (Norwack, 2012): 1.Emotions are important in both work and non-work interactions (Norwack, 2012).

2.There are individual differences in the capacity to perceive, understand, use, and manage emotions (Norwack, 2012). 3.Differences in Emotional Intelligence are important in some contexts and less important in others (Norwack, 2012). Norwack described Emotional Intelligence best as “the ability to perceive and express emotions, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in self and others” (Norwack, 2012). As an effective leader knowing about employees will be the key to success towards employees respecting his or her leader.


Why is Emotional Intelligence so important? From a leadership standpoint Emotional Intelligence will support or determine a leader’s success (Dainton and Zelley, 2011). Emotional Intelligence in today’s business world demand leaders to be transformational to be successful in leading people (Norwack, 2012). Dainton and Zelley describe two types of leadership used in today’s business Transactional and Transformational (Dainton and Zelley, 2011). Transactional removes the care for people factor out of the equation and causes leaders only concern for results which, develops a lack of flexibility for employees (Dainton and Zelley, 2011). Transformational leadership allows leaders to use the tools to understand their emotions and how they affect the ability to lead effectively (Dainton and Zelley, 2011).

Norwack points out three factors of emotion that must be understood and utilized with transformational leadership styles (Norwack, 2012). 1.Emotion Perception relates to awareness of others and their emotions (Norwack, 2012). 2.Emotion Understanding relates to the ability logically to label or empathize with others (Norwack, 2012). 3.Emotion Management controlling the emotional stress of a leader and others effectively (Norwack, 2012). Daniel Goleman describes all these factors in his book and teaches these concepts as a consultant. Large companies like Bowing, Raytheon, and IBM use these concepts to develop current and future leaders for their companies. Effective leadership is a must in today’s business world to thrive and succeed (Norwack, 2012).


Anonymous. (2008, February 04). Woman’s instinct is to nurture. Times – Picayune . Retrieved from Antonakis, J., Ashkanasy, N. M., & Dasborough, M. T. (2009). Does leadership need emotional intelligence?. The Leadership Quarterly, 247-261. Retrieved from cognitive. (2002). In A Dictionary of Philosophy, Macmillan. Retrieved from Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2011). Applying communication theory for professional life: A

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Emotional Intelligence in Leadership. (2016, Dec 04). Retrieved from

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

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