Industrial Psychiatry Journal

: 2014  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1--3

Establishing linkages between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership

Sanjay Kumar 
 Air Commodore, Air Officer Commanding, 9 Base Repair Depot, Pune, Maharashtra

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Kumar
9 BRD, Air Force Station Viman Nagar, Nagar Road, Pune - 411014, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Kumar S. Establishing linkages between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership.Ind Psychiatry J 2014;23:1-3

How to cite this URL:
Kumar S. Establishing linkages between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Jun 28 ];23:1-3
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The concept of leadership has been well-researched since the antiquated times. Over the years, the studies have yielded a plethora of works and data relevant to transactional and transformational leadership (TL). There are numerous definitions of such leadership that have come to light however these definitions have always been debatable. Most scholars agree that the concept of leadership does not ascribe to one specific definition. Burns [1],[2] however, provided the following definition of leadership in his landmark publication, leadership: "Leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations - the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations - of both leaders and followers. Moreover, the genius of TL lies in the manner in which leaders see and act on their own and their followers' values and motivations." This is reflected throughout history as the evolvement of many leaders has left lasting marks and impressions upon the world. Well-known leaders such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. endowed superior qualities that differentiated them from followers. The TL traits possessed by these leaders are having definite link with some of the constructs of emotional intelligence (EI) of inspired others to become devoted followers who were committed to their cause. Leadership in this sense is an aspect of power, but unlike power, leadership is inseparable from followers' needs and goals. [2]


Many researchers have been working in the area of EI and its important constructs. Some of the important works are highlighted in the following paragraphs.

Salovey and Mayer [3] first introduced the concept of EI as a type of social intelligence, separable from general intelligence. According to them, EI is the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and use the information to guide one's thinking and actions. It has been brought that EI is the common element that influences the different ways in which people develop in their lives, jobs, and social skills; handle frustration; control their emotions; and get along with other people. It has been found that the difference between a simply brilliant person and a brilliant manager is due to a person's EI.

Bardzill and Slaski [4] found that organizational leaders must recognize the importance of EI behavior and reward it actively. Positive reinforcement of an EI environment ensures the development of a service - orientated climate. Emotional elements underlie the dynamics of many aspects of modern organizations, and the role of EI should be considered while devising organizational policies, processes, and procedures.

Welch [5] said that EI enables teams to boost their performance. In an era of teamwork, it is essential to figure out what makes teams work. His research has shown that just like individuals, the most effective teams are the EI ones and that any team can improve and attain higher levels of EI. In his study, teams with identical aggregate intelligence quotient (IQ) were compared, and it was found that teams with high levels of EI outperformed teams with low levels of EI by a margin of two to one.

Turner [6] stated that EI is the softer component of the total intelligence and that it contributes to both professional and personal lives. Traditional IQ is the ability to learn, understand and reason. It is now thought to contribute only 20% to one's success, whereas emotional quotient (EQ), which is the ability to understand oneself and interact with people, contributes 80%. EQ is critical to effective leadership. IQ has been linked to job performance and were a key element in recruitment. However, EQ is evident in the leaders'/managers' ability to retain their positions and be successful in their roles. The fact is that most firms hire for intelligence (IQ) and sack because of attitude (EQ).

Vakola et al. [7] presented that EI contributes to a better understanding of the affective implications of a change of policy in an organization. More specifically, they claimed that employees with low control of emotions react negatively toward the proposed changes since they are not well equipped to deal effectively with the demands and the affective consequences of such a stressful, emotionally expensive procedure.


One of the most prominent developments in the investigation of EI and TL is the confirmation of its utility for increasing organizational satisfaction, commitment, and effectiveness. Empirical research by Masi and Cooke [8] compared the impact of TL and transactional leadership on follower motivation, empowerment, and commitment to quality. They found TL tends to empower and motivate followers while transactional leadership, which focuses on rewards or the threat of withholding rewards (Bass and Avolio [9] ), tends to suppress follower commitment to both quality and productivity.

Bass and Avolio [10] proposed that the four dimensions, which comprise TL behavior are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual simulation, and individualized consideration. Copper [11] showed that the trustworthiness is an important element in a leader's makeup as shown in the previously described study. Without trust, much time and effort are spent on nonproductive activities because leaders feel compelled to draw up procedures in great detail, even for simple transactions. Innovation will stop when subordinates do not trust the leaders. Creativity will vanish if the sense of trust in an organization is lost and if people are preoccupied with protecting their backs.

It has been found that transformational behaviors on the part of leaders promote empowering cultural norms, high levels of subordinate motivation, commitment to quality, and enhanced productivity. It was seen that empowering cultural norms of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) promotes constructive and achievement-oriented behaviors by members. Such norms are associated with basic values and shared assumptions emphasizing the significance of organizational members' roles and collaboration through motivation rather than by competition. Motivation in this context is the extrinsically stimulated "extra effort" on the part of subordinates inspired by transformational leaders. Transformational leaders enhance the OCB of followers through motivation.

Palmer et al. [12] found that the inspirational motivation and individualized consideration components of TL are significantly correlated with the ability to both monitor and manage emotions in oneself and others. According to Brief and Weiss, [13] transformational leaders feel excited, enthusiastic and energetic, thus energize their followers. Transformational leaders use strong emotions to arouse similar feelings in their audiences. Kark and Shamir [14] suggested that transformational leaders can have a dual effect, exerting their influence on followers through the creation of personal identification with the leader and social identification with the work unit, and that these different forms of identification can lead to differential outcomes.


Based on the various literature survey, it is established that constructs of EI such as self-awareness, empathy and motivation have direct positive co-relation with TL traits such as individual influence , individualized consideration and inspirational motivation. It is thereby inferred that more EI competent leader will be able to influence his followers with his individual personality and motivate them very well. Also with enhanced EI competency the empathy will be more pronounced, and he can give individualized consideration to his followers. The model is depicted pictorially in the following diagram.



Having reviewed a considerable number of papers, it is observed that TL has definite positive correlation with EI barring few exceptions. As per various studies carried out in varied environments reveal that emotionally competent leaders at various levels of management are more successful in their organization and they are able to transform the people and work culture by their individual personality traits and inspirational motivating power. Some of the inferences are listed below:

EQ is critical to TLEI is a stronger predictor of job performance and OCBLeaders having higher EI show better quality of work performanceTL enhances organizational performance while few contradict thisFour dimensions, which comprise TL behavior are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual simulation, and individualized considerationTransformational leaders are frequently motivated to go beyond the call of duty for the benefit of their organizationTransformational behaviors of leaders promote empowering cultural norms, high levels of subordinate motivation, commitment to quality and enhanced productivityTransformational leaders feel excited, enthusiastic and energetic, thus energize their followers. Transformational leaders use strong emotions to arouse similar feelings in their followers through EI competency.


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