Original Research

Revisiting the emotional intelligence and transformational leadership debate: (How) does emotional intelligence matter to effective leadership?

Gina Görgens-Ekermans, Chene Roux
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 19 | a1279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v19i0.1279 | © 2021 Gina Görgens-Ekermans, Chene Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 September 2019 | Published: 27 January 2021

About the author(s)

Gina Görgens-Ekermans, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Chene Roux, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Empirical evidence supports the notion that emotional intelligence (EI) and transformational leadership (TFL) are related and confirms the positive effect of this leadership style on follower attitudes and performance. However, more insight is needed into the nomological net of variables that affect outcomes of effective leadership, as experienced by the follower of a leader who exhibits TFL behaviours, being influenced by various EI competencies.

Research purpose: This study developed and tested a structural model that depicts the nature of the relationships between EI competencies, TFL behaviours and three outcomes of effective leadership.

Motivation for the study: We argued that more insight into how (1) different components of EI affect TFL behaviours, and how (2) different components of TFL behaviours, in turn, affect outcomes of effective leadership, could be valuable in designing targeted interventions to increase employee commitment, job satisfaction (JS) and perceived supervisor support (PSS).

Research design/design and method: The cross-sectional data included a sample of 267 respondents, with 85 leader–follower dyads that were analysed with partial least squares modelling. Self and other ratings were employed.

Main findings: Nine of the 19 postulated relationships in the structural model were supported. Three of the four TFL components were shown to be influenced by various components of EI. Only PSS was significantly affected by idealised influence as a TFL behaviour.

Practical/managerial implications: Increased understanding of which EI competencies influence TFL behaviours may be useful in the development of leaders by guiding targeted EI intervention strategies to increase leadership effectiveness.

Contribution / value-add: This study confirmed the notion that EI competencies seem to be hierarchically ordered, whilst also providing insight into the differential impact of these competencies on TFL behaviours.


Keywords

emotional intelligence; transformational leadership; job satisfaction; organisational commitment; perceived supervisor support

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