Example Of Essay On There Is A Strong Link Between Transformational Leadership And Emotional Intelligence

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Leadership, Emotions, Servant, Model, Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Principles, Skills

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/17

When the term, Transformational Leadership made its way in Downton’s (1973) book Rebel Leadership, the number of its proponents were outnumbered by its critics, who strongly opposed its main idea that intrinsic motivation is stronger than extrinsic motivation by arguing that there is just only type of motivation. For example, Guzzo (1979) cited Skinner’s (1953) theory that changes in behavior are the outcome of individuals' response to stimuli of their environment, and therefore, a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern can be reinforced through reward, and identified extrinsic rewards as the single tool for motivation. However, with passage of time transformational leadership style now has become an essential instrument of modern day management, as the global business environment is now dealing more with several intrinsic elements such as intellectual capital, tacit knowledge, and knowledge management (Nonaka, Toyama, & Konno, 2000), which are almost fully dependent on intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, the advent of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the 1990s (Goleman, 1995, 1998, Salovey & Mayer, 1990, Mayer & Salovey, 1997) also created a strong impact on the concept of leadership with its emphasis on empowering the leaders with the ability to exploit emotion towards all-round development. Interestingly, EI also faced severe criticism, where its opponents dismissed it as “the latest in a long line of psychological fads” (Matthews, Roberts, & Zeidner, 2004, p. 179). Such states of affairs thus invoke a quest such as whether there is a link between transformational leadership and emotional intelligence and accordingly this study explores the nuances of Servant Leadership Style, an improvised version of transformational leadership, and EI, before coming to a conclusion.

Transformational Leadership

As stated earlier, transformational leadership style started gaining momentum in the 1970s. Around that time its proponents cleared their stands by stating that this leadership style with holistic approach appeals to the moral plane of the followers and motivates them to set their organizational journey with clear vision, direction, and quality performance, which in turn would transform both the individual as well as the organization as optimum performers among the waves of change (Bass, 1990; Burns, 1982). Transformational leaders were also identified as charismatic leaders with high ability to inspire and improve the productivity of the followers (Tucker & Russell, 2003).
However, adoption of transformational leadership was considered as a risky proposition in its formative years, since there was the premonition of losing organizational focus through strictly adhering its lofty, holistic ideals. Such state of affairs prompted the researchers to improvise this model, and accordingly several transformational models emanated from this concept, which tried to blend holistic pursuits and organizational policies in their own way. For example, Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership Style (henceforth will be mentioned as SLS) declared its aim to selflessly serve 24/7 for the well-being of the followers to obtain their best performance. Eventually several SLS model emerged from this concept (Page & Wong, 2000; Patterson, 2003; Russell & Stone, 2002; Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002; and Winston, 2003), where specific focus on one or the other intrinsic elements make them different. Altogether the basic elements of SLS can be depicted in the following manner:
Figure 1: Basic Elements of SLS
Greenleaf (1977), the main proponent of SLS, suggests that all of the above elements can be learned and exploited. According to the context of this study, it would be pertinent to compare the principles of SLS with the principles of EI to find whether there is a link between them, but not before going through the basics of EI.

Emotional Intelligence

Irrespective of its criticism as stated earlier, the concept of EI started gaining momentum in the 1990s, which began with the works of Salovey and Mayer (1990), and later popularized by Goleman (1995, 1998) and again by Mayer and Salovey (1997). According to Salovey and Mayer, EI has four constructs, such as the ability to appraise and express emotion, the use of emotion to enhance cognitive processes and decision making, the ability to understand and analyze emotions, and the reflective regulation of emotion. On the other hand, Goleman posited EI with five constructs as its key drivers, such as Self-Awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills, where each such construct contains several components. Thus it would be fair to check whether there is a link between SLS and both models of EI.

SLS and Salovey and Mayer’s EI Model

The first construct of EI within this model refers to the individual ability to appraise and express emotion. This can be aligned with at least three SLS models, where one states that sensing the emotions and feelings of the others to successfully developing emotional bonds (Page & Wong, 2000), second one suggests that moral love (agapao) between leader and the follower generates commitment to the leader (Winston, 2003), and the third one suggests appreciating others through personal attention (Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2003).
The second construct of EI within this model suggests using emotion to develop cognitive processes and decision making appears closely aligned to Page and Wong’s (2000) factory of integrity, Patterson’s (2003) factors of altruism, trust, and service, besides aligning with Russell and Stone’s (2002) factors of trust, integrity, and credibility and Sendjaya and Sarros’ (2002) factors equality and trust.
According to the third construct of EI within this model refers to the ability to understand and analyze emotions appears as aligned with Page and Wong’s (2000) idea that leaders should know the cause and consequences of emotions, besides aligning with the idea of self-awareness and self-perception as presented by Sendjaya and Sarros (2002) in their model.
The fourth construct of EI within this model refers to the reflective regulation of emotion clearly aligns with the views of two proponents of SLS, where Patterson (2003) stresses on proactive regulation of emotion from the part of the leader and Russell and Stone (2002) who stress on specific leader behaviors in the workplace, which is tantamount to reflective regulation of emotion. Therefore one can observe that all four constructs of EI within the framework of Salove and Mayer (1990) are strongly linked with one or the other components of SLS. The following diagram easily consolidates the above view:
[Adapted from Winston (2004)]

SLS and Goleman’s EI Model

As the first proponent of SLS, Greenleaf (1977) furnished the following 11 principles before the aspiring servant leaders:

Calling: To possess an innate desire to serve, and to prove the same by virtue of actions;

Listening: To possess excellent listening skills besides being able to extract the essence of others' views;
Empathy: To possess the ability to empathize;
Healing: To be able to facilitate others to open up and find the peace of mind;
Awareness: To remain aware of the events around and to use that awareness in avoiding and action misled by wrong information;

Persuasion: To be able to get things done through strong persuasion skills;

Conceptualization: To be able to read situations;
Foresight: Being able to envision the future by using logic and wisdom;
Stewardship: To possess the spirit to convert every follower into servant leader through inspiration, guidance, and grooming by using all virtues of servant leadership;

Growth: To possess a deep desire to see the followers growing at the height of their potential; and

Building Community: To be able to create the workplace a second happy home for the followers.
While furnishing the above set of principles, Greenleaf (1977) also mentioned that all of the above principles are actually 11 qualities that can be learned and practiced. Now if one wants to compare the above principles with Goleman’s (1995, 1998) EI model, then all one needs to do is to club the above principles with what one finds matching in the framework of Goleman. As stated earlier, Goleman (1995, 1998) present five constructs as the main drivers of EI, such as Self-Awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills. Each of the above constructs contains some components and therefore, a tabular form would be ideal to do the task of clubbing the Greenleaf’s 11 principles:

The above table presents a striking similarity between the 11 principles of servant leadership and five constructs of Goleman’s (1995, 1998) EI. What is not present in the table is the similarity between the views of Greenleaf (1977) and Goleman regarding the scope of mastering those principles/qualities, as Goleman too believes that humans can learn and practice to raise the level of above-mentioned qualities in them.


The review and analysis of literature on servant leadership and EI facilitates the emergence of three points. One, in spite of being different in format and coinages, the basic components of the frameworks of SLS and EI are almost similar. In many instances it appears as if EI is interpreting the principles of SLS. Two, both frameworks are solely based on managing the intrinsic and ineffable mechanism of human mind, and three, it is currently difficult to quantitatively assess the impact of the above principals/constructs/qualities on the individuals. For example, no one can measure his/her own or others’ state of awareness or level of empathy and describe the same in measureable units.
The above three findings answer all. For example, the first two findings clearly show a strong link between SLS and EI, while the third finding explains why they were repeatedly challenged by the positivists who believe only in information that are derived from logical and mathematical treatments and reports of sensory experience. Altogether the above findings prompt this study to infer that there is a strong link between SLS and EI.


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