Incorporating Emotional Intelligence Training in Leadership and Employee Development

Incorporating Emotional Intelligence Training in Leadership and Employee Development

Various authors have debated the effects and importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the leadership role within organizations.  Baesu and Bejinaru (2015) found leaders who incorporate EI in their job duties find different ways of motivating and leading employees.  When leaders motivate and lead employees effectively, they create respect between the leader and employee, which is a significant need among employees in today's workplace.

Golis (2013) stated in 1990 Mayer and Salovey interpreted EI as "a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action" (para. 1).  Goleman described emotionally intelligent individuals as being self-aware, responsible for one’s behavior, being socially aware, and having social skills (Golis, 2013).  Every organization has leaders, and the development of those leaders is crucial on the independent, group, and organizational level.

Leaders take on an influential and integral role through motivating the attitude, behavior, and performance outcomes of employees (Kerr, Garvin, Heaton, & Boyle, 2006).  Leaders who encompass and integrate EI into their daily duties may increase employees’ job satisfaction, job performance, motivation, and potentially decrease turnover rates within organizations.  There are numerous professions in which EI may be beneficial including but not limited to customer service, government, teachers, psychologists, marketing and advertisement, sales, and leadership positions.  Leadership positions range from team leaders to executive leaders and incorporating EI into the training and development program may be depicted as an integral part in organizational commitment, work environment well-being, job satisfaction, and job performance (Kerr et al., 2006; Lambert & Paoline, 2008).

Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, and Sitarenios (2001) developed a four-branch model to measure EI.  The authors stated how EI was similar to traditional intelligence and measurable as an ability.  The four measurable areas included a) being aware of people’s emotions, b) applying emotions to assist the thought process, c) comprehending the emotions, and d) governing emotions to personally and socially grow (Mayer et al., 2001).  There are some conflicting views of whether EI may increase the effectiveness of leaders within organizations, increase employee job satisfaction, and decrease turnover. 

Weinberger (2009) conducted a study on EI and leadership effectiveness within a manufacturing organization and compared the results to a similar study carried out by Sosik and Megerian (1999).  Weinberger (2009) stated the results of the studies data analysis did not find a significant relationship between the four branches of EI and leadership effectiveness, while Sosik and Megerian’s (2009) research study results indicated leaders who were rated to be more effective had more elements of EI.  O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver, and Story (2011) performed a meta-analytical research study to investigate a possible connection between EI and job performance.  The authors obtained studies using meta-analysis to investigate possible correlations between personality, cognitive abilities, and performance.  The authors used twice the sample size of the previous meta-analysis; implemented the three streams approach for classifying EI investigations; performed tests for differences; used the statistical procedure dominance analysis, and tested for publication bias.  According to the authors, the results indicated researchers should focus on developing models to include cognitive intelligence, the five-factor model, and EI as integrative measures. 

An average work day produce’s several obstacles and stressors for employees and having a leader with high EI may positively affect their followers’ motivations, moods, job satisfaction, and performance.  In the same respect, leaders with low EI may negatively affect their followers’ motivations, feelings, job satisfaction, and performance.  Understanding and developing EI in leadership positions may significantly increase the well-being of an organization's environment. 

Emotions are complex and may be difficult to perceive by others which may make it hard for people to know how to manage those emotions.  An individual with high EI knows how to stand back and observe a situation, perceive the emotions of others, think deeply upon and understand those feelings, and then take the newly learned information and manage their emotions and actions.  Those in leadership and non-leadership positions have the potential to influence their peers significantly.  Therefore, it is crucial for organizations to understand and develop EI in leaders and employees to create a work environment supporting leadership and personal achievement, internal relationships, and improvement of organizational performance (Keyser, 2013).

Leaders are not the only individuals able to affect others’ motivations, job satisfaction, performance, and moods within the workplace.  Employee sectors of an organization work with each other daily and have the potential to influence others socially and emotionally, indicating a possible relationship between social intelligence and emotional intelligence.  Mayer et al. (2001) stated EI is a subset of social intelligence, which is the skill to be socially aware of others emotions and manage those relationships intelligently.  The workplace is a social environment where individuals interact daily.  Developing EI in leaders and employees may positively increase working relationships among co-workers and sequentially boost job satisfaction, performance, motivation, and potentially decrease turnover rates.

For example, the Texas 2015 turnover rate study reported eight percent of correctional officers stated one of the reasons for separation of employment was having issues with a supervisor or those being supervised (Keel, 2015).  Eight percent may seem like a low percentage; however, reducing this turnover rate by implementing a training and development program specific to EI development may increase working relationships among co-workers and inmates.  Montgomery (2006) indicated a need for more empirical analysis to increase the knowledge of leadership needs within correctional systems.  Developing EI in correctional leaders may positively impact their followers’ daily duties and, in time, potentially aid in deterring stressful and dangerous situations. 

The development of EI in leaders and employees in a multitude of organizations has the potential to bring about numerous positive outcomes for organizations performance and commitment.  Emmerling, Shanwal, and Mandal (2008) stated an individual’s intelligence might determine how far he or she might move up within the organization but EI aids the individual in maintaining their position.  Moving up in an organization is not solely dependent on people having high intellect and EI; however, possessing social and emotional intelligence amplifies the chances of being more successful within the organization.

Discussion Question

How would incorporating Emotional Intelligence (EI) in leadership and employee development be beneficial for your workplace?


Additional Reading

Emotional Intelligance and the Future of Work |


Baesu, C., & Bejinaru, R. (2015). Innovative leadership styles and the influence of emotional

intelligence. The USV Annals of Economics & Public Administration, 15, issue special, 136-145. Retrieved from

Emmerling, R. J., Shanwal, V. K., & Mandal, M. K. (2008). Emotional intelligence: Theoretical

and cultural perspectives. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Golis, C. (2013). A brief history of emotional intelligence. Retrieved


Keel, J. (2015). An annual report on classified employee turnover for fiscal year 2015. Texas

State Auditor's Office Report No 16-702. Retrieved from

Kerr, R., Garvin, J., Heaton, N., & Boyle, E. (2006). Emotional intelligence and leadership

effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development, 27(4), 265-279. doi:10.1108/01437730610666028

Keyser, J. (2013). Emotional Intelligence is key to our success. Retrieved from

Lambert, E. G., & Paoline, E. A., III (2008). The influence of individual, job, and organizational

characteristics on correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Criminal Justice Review, (33)4, 541-564. doi:10.1177/0734016808320694

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., Caruso, D. R., & Sitarenios, G. (2001). Emotional intelligence

as a standard intelligence. Emotion, 1(3), 232-242. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.1.3.232

Montgomery, M. J. (2006). Leadership in a correctional environment. Corrections

Compendium, 31(3), 1-5,11. Retrieved from

O’Boyle, E. H., Jr., Humphrey, R. H., Pollack, J. M., Hawver, T. H., & Story, P. A. (2011). The

relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32, 788-818. doi:10.1002/job.714

Weinberger, L. A. (2009). Emotional intelligence, leadership style, and perceived leadership

effectiveness. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 11(6), 747-772. doi:10.1177/1523422309360811


Simona Parker's picture Simona Parker | June 11, 2017 1:39 am MST

I believe emotional intelligence would be a welcome addition to my current workplace.  It means my employer would be more conscious of our emotion, how we are impacted by their style of ledership and possibly why they appraoc us in the manner they deem appropriate.  If I can recall correctly, I believe emotional intelligence is a term that describes our manager's understanding of our emotion in addition to their own.  I believe having emotional intelligence would probaby control how we approach one another.  Hopefully we ll will approach with respect and understanding in mind.

Dorothy Williams's picture Dorothy Williams | June 29, 2017 12:29 am MST

Hi Kimberly, great blog with indepth information on El. Emotional Intelligence is an integral part of Life Foundation Training Center staff, volunteers, and clients. As the CEO and Special Programs Director, faced with the responsibility of delivering the best possible decision to achieve or further the mission of the nonprofit enterprise, the El philosophy is relevant to me learning what willl help me manage my feelings, relate better with others, and bring my best self to any situation. We have used the EI model to stay proactive versus reactive when dealing with an obstreperous person. In developing the EI with the staff, volunteers, and clients, I aim to increase self-awareness and control, empathy, social expertness, personal influencce, and mastery of vision. All of these aspects of El is important. My focus is on knowledge of image for all so that we will have the ability to see clear directions and vision guided by strong personal philosophy. My perspective is for all to have the capacity to articulate and communicate with passion/excitement regarding the direction we are going and growing in the communities, both inner-city and suburbs.

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