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  • Tim Evans

Emotional Intelligence & Transformational Leadership

Think of a good leader. What qualities do they have? Do they go above and beyond for their employees, know how to inspire others, encourage and innovate change? If the leader you are thinking of possesses these qualities, you may be thinking of a transformational leader. Transformational leadership is a leadership style in which leaders motivate and encourage their employees, looks for potential motives in employees and seeks to satisfy higher needs.


The relationship between the concept of transformational leadership and emotional intelligence has long been a subject of interest in research. Transformational leadership traits possessed by leaders have a definite link with the constructs of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

Emotional intelligence is a milestone to effective transformational leadership. Emotionally intelligent leaders are more likely to exhibit transformational leadership behaviour. These leaders have the capability to understand their employees’ needs, can empathise more effectively and therefore interact and manage their relationships in a positive fashion. Emotionally intelligent leaders also gain more trust and respect. This is due to their ability to manage their emotions and convey them in an effective and meaningful way.


Gardner and Stough (2002)* investigated the relationship between leadership style and emotional intelligence using 110 senior level managers. It was discovered that transformational leadership was strongly related to emotional intelligence. Transformational leaders were able to motivate their employees better and inspire collective organisational interests. They have the emotional intelligence to solve dilemmas and critical decisions, while acknowledging that common values and beliefs are of great importance to the organisation.


The good news for leaders is that emotional intelligence can be developed. As you develop your emotional intelligence, your transformational leadership skills develop too. Emotional intelligence assessments are a simple and effective way to impact this development. In fact, 60% of those who have used emotional intelligence assessments are very effective in their leadership development, and organisations that widely use emotional intelligence are 3.2 times more effective at leadership development.


* Examining the relationship between leadership and emotional intelligence in senior level managers in Leadership & Organizational Development Journal 23(2) 68:78 March 2002

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