The search for the formula for great leadership has followed a long and winding path.  One element consistently attracting the attention of behavioral scientists over the last few decades has been the influence of emotional intelligence in leadership.  This attention is stimulated by the consistent finding that emotional intelligence plays a powerfully positive role in leaders’ effectiveness (Alston, Dastoor & Sosa-Fey, 2010).

Emotional intelligence involves a leader’s ability to accurately perceive, appraise, and express emotions in oneself and others.  Accessing and generating feelings that increase performance and promote both intellectual and emotional growth are key skills of an emotionally intelligent leader (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

Leaders high in emotional intelligence are responsive to critical situations in dynamic environments because they identify important emotional information in themselves and others.  With this information, they alter attitudes and behaviors that stimulate successful outcomes in evolving environments. Consequently, they create pleasant, positive, supportive environments that boost work performance and deepen the sense of belonging among team members.  (Choudhary, Naqshbandi, Philip & Kumar, 2017). In short, emotionally intelligent leaders identify and make use of emotional information to tailor their actions, cultivate a positive work environment, create a sense of belonging and accelerate job performance.

Finally, the question as to whether emotional intelligence is an inherent or learned trait has also been put to rest by research (Payne, 1985).  It clearly appears that it is and can be learned—and at any age or stage in life. It requires becoming aware of your own and other’s emotions and understanding appropriate and supportive emotional responses to influence desired  outcomes.  With so much at state in a leadership role, it appears the emotional intelligent leader is well positioned to significantly improve their own and their team’s success. .


Alston, B. A., Dastoor, B. R., & Sosa-Fey, J. (2010). Emotional intelligence and leadership: A study of human resource managers. International Journal of Business and Public Administration, 7(2), 61-75.

Choudary, N., Naqshbandi, M. M., Philip, P. J., & Kumar, R. (2017). Employee job performance: The interplay of leaders’ emotion management ability and employee perception of job characteristics. Journal of Management Development, 36(8), 1087-1098

Mayer, J.D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (pp. 3-34). New York: Harper Collins.

Payne, W. (1985). A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence; Self-Integration; Relating to Fear, Pain and Desire.  Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation:The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities.