Emotional Intelligence and Transformational Leadership Essay

Total Length: 972 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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.....leadership outlines a number of different hypotheses regarding leadership style that have emerged over the years. At the intersection of traits and more progressive views of leadership style is the idea that emotional intelligence is a significant contributor to leadership success. Similarly, it has become leadership orthodoxy that transformational leaders are more successful than transactional ones. Given that transformational leadership requires the leader to inspire and motivate followers, and that a high degree of emotional intelligence would reasonably be thought to aid in this, the hypothesis can be formed that leaders with emotional intelligence are more likely to be transformational leaders, and more successful ones as well.

Several studies have explored the link between emotional intelligence and the transformational leadership style. Quader (2011) notes that emotional leadership can be subdivided into five different areas. Of these, three are more associated with transactional leadership: self-awareness, self-motivation and emotional mentoring). As such, Quader was unable to derive a specific link between high emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, and indeed found stronger evidence of links with transactional. One reason, perhaps, is that transactional leadership also requires motivation, perhaps more than transformational, because the work normally associated with that leadership style is less inherently inspiring. A transactional leader has to get workers to engage with work that is not actually engaging.

Other studies have also sought to explore the link between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership.

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Leban & Zulauf (2014) found that "emotional intelligence training may be able to address only three of the four "I's of transformational leadership: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration," while not addressing intellectual stimulation. While the authors conclude there to be a reasonably strong relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, they do find that it is not a complete alignment. They admit that "intellectual stimulation may require conventional intelligence not amenable to improvement through training." A key takeaway here is the reminder that their study focused on emotional intelligence training, rather than emotional intelligence itself. It is reasonable to expect that there is a correlation between the two, even if training is an imperfect proxy for actual EI level.

Van Genderen (2012) makes a good point that there are cultural variables that might play a role in the link between EI and leadership style. His study focused on Russian managers, and found them to prefer a participative leadership style. This again calls attention to the defect in the original hypothesis, which is clearly rooted in the American concept of a transactional-transformational leadership dichotomy. Such concepts may not be particularly familiar to managers from other backgrounds. As such, Van Genderen (2012) found no….....

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Leban, W. & Zulauf, C. (2014) Linking emotional intelligence and transformational leadership styles. Leadership and Organizational Development Journal 25 (7) 554-564.

Mandell, B. & Pherwani, S. (2003) Relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership style: A gender comparison. Journal of Business and Psychology. 17 (3) 387-404.

Quader, M. S. (2011). Leadership style and emotional intelligence: A gender comparison. Annamalai International Journal of Business Studies & Research, 3 (1), 1 -- 23.

Van Genderen, E. (2012). Relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership style: A comparative- gender study. Review of International Comparative Management 13(2) 73, 224-236

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