Emotional intelligence (EQ) evolved from a term called social intelligence (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). This intelligence is focused more on soft skills, often known as people skills, instead of normally tested intellect (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). According to a number of researchers there is a link between high levels of EQ and life satisfaction (Warwick & Nettelbeck, 2004). This connection is important because, in this day and age, employees spend more time at work than in their homes; because of this situation, emotional intelligence is honed and utilized most in a work environment (Raddawi, 2014). Thus, we can assume that when one is in a leadership position, specifically one where transformational leadership styles are used, it is of paramount importance that transformational leaders not only understand emotional intelligence but have the awareness and ability to utilize its positive effects.
‘What is a transformational leader?’ you may ask. Or ‘What are transformational leaders like?”. First and foremost, transformational leaders aim to engage followers (subordinates) to create relationships that raise motivation and morality within both parties ultimately appealing to their values and sense of purpose ((1) Pennsylvania State University World Campus, 2020). Bearing this in mind, I will point out that a crucial portion of maintaining and building up relationships is an understanding of one’s motivations and emotions. This understanding and communication eventually leads to trust which may lead to an increased level of productivity. In addition to understanding one’s emotions, EQ is also beneficial for an effective characteristic of transformational leadership. Charisma. “Charisma is defined as a special personality characteristic that gives a person superhuman or exceptional powers” ((2) Pennsylvania State University World Campus, 2020). Now, not all charisma is made equal. Charisma can have positive or negative influences. Both Gandhi and Hitler were charismatic but they have drastically different connotations associated with their names. Positive transformational leaders have the ability to rouse strong influence over followers while also boosting morale and confidence. But, do not forget, each employee has different ways they are motivated (think intrinsic or extrinsic). So, if a transformational leader has a high level of emotional intelligence they are more likely to have a close relationship with their employees which fosters trust and open communication. Therefore, high levels of EQ breeds an environment for rich communication. This rich communication allows the transformational leader to best understand and motivate each employee whether it be by adding responsibility, offering bonus incentives, or simply give more verbal praise for tasks completed. Personalized interactions offer subordinates the ability to participate more in decision- making and is considered a more democratic style of leadership (Duckett & Macfarlane, 2003). This boosted participation leads to higher productivity and involvement from employees (Duckett & Macfarlane, 2003).
Overall, transformational leadership styles would not survive without emotional intelligence. EQ is at the base of transformational leadership. Not unlike a house, if you remove the foundation what is left? Something unstable with no support and no use. Ultimately, high levels of emotional intelligence can only help, not hinder, those approaching leadership from a transformational leadership style.
Duckett & Macfarlane. (2003). Emotional intelligence and transformational leadership in retailing. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24(5), 309-317. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1108/01437730310494284
(1) Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2020). PSYCH 485 Lesson 10: Transformational Leadership- Transformational Leadership Defined . Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2040131/modules/items/28001794.
(2) Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2020). PSYCH 485 Lesson 10: Transformational Leadership- Transformational Leadership and Charismatic Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2040131/modules/items/28001798
Raddawi, R. (2014). Emotional intelligence (EQ) and transformational leadership. London: Centre for Business & Economic Research. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1514357926?accountid=13158
Warwick, J., & Nittelbeck, T. (2004, October). Emotional Intelligence is…? Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/science/article/pii/S0191886903004604?via=ihub