The term of the Emotional Intelligence was first literally introduced in the decade of 1990 by Salovey and Mayer. Few years later, a significant interest aroused around Emotional Intelligence its approaches and its applications (Elias et al 1993, Goleman, 1995, Picard 1997).
Emotional Intelligence is considered to be a dual dimensional theory that is focused on people's self and social skills. That means that Emotional Intelligence concerns the human's ability of having an effective command of expressing, evaluating, managing emotions, communicating feelings and facilitating thought applied on individual and relationship based level.
It can be classified in two broad models: the ability based model and the mixed model. The ability model involves the abilities of conceiving and recognising the emotions, facilitating thoughts, understanding complex emotions and managing them (Mayer and Salovey, 1997). Specifically:
"Emotional Intelligence involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to understand emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth." (Mayer and Salovey, 1997)
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The above four branch model links hierarchically the basic process of conceiving emotions to the advanced level of understanding them and is measured with MSCEIT (Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test; Salovey et al 2004).
The mixed model of Emotional Intelligence involves non innate talents but learnt competencies that affect significantly job performance (Goleman, Voyatzis, McKee,2002). This kind of model is mainly addressed to leader's performance and provides dynamic outlines for becoming an effective leader. However, in no case should be considered as the ideal guide for developing outstanding leadership skills, but presents the insights that may be applied in any given circumstance to enhance leader's performance. The basic elements of the mixed model of Emotional Intelligence consist of self - focused and social - focused competencies. These are: self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. It is essential to clarify and analyze further the key competencies of Emotional Intelligence in order to understand later their contribution to leadership.
Self awareness involves emotional self awareness, accurate self assessment and self confidence. The emotional self awareness is referred to the fact that someone is fully aware of his/her feelings and realise their impact. The accurate self assessment involves the knowledge of strengths and weaknesses and how they can be eliminated through gradual improvement. A highly self confident person is aware of his/her abilities, expressing strong confidence of dealing with difficult tasks.
Moreover, in the group of self - focused competencies are included the self management capabilities that concern emotional self - control, transparency, adaptability, achievement, initiative and optimism. The emotional self - control is referred to one's ability to setting impulsive emotions under control, while the transparency is associated with integrity and honesty. The adaptability entails flexibility and the ability to easily adjust to spontaneous changes, whereas the achievement concerns the fulfillment of goals and targets. The initiative concerns one's ability to act alone holding responsibility for the consequences of his/her actions; the optimism entails seeing the positive aspect of the events and the future facts that might take place.
The social - focused competencies i.e. social awareness and relationship management determine the manner of managing followers. The social awareness includes empathy which means understanding one's concerns and emotional situation, organizational effectiveness which is referred to the efficiency of meeting organizational goals and service which has to do with the comprehension of followers' requirements. The relationship management involves inspiration (generating motivations to the followers), influence, developing others (improving one's capabilities), change catalyst (leading an entirely new and innovative modification), conflict management (how to manage disagreements), building bonds (the ability of socializing and developing a network of new relationships) and teamwork (effective collaboration and co -existence with the relationships).
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
"Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of the organizationâ€¦" (House et al, 1999, p.184)
It is required to mention that there is a vast range of terms about leadership as it is adjusted according to organizational environment and aims (Contingency Theory of Leadership: "Different situations, demand different leaders' behavior"). However, in any case leadership through its dynamic dimension provides guidelines that can promote organizational effectiveness. By this term, we usually mean profitability on financial terms or organization's ability to equip employees with those skills necessary for performing business fully engaged with organizational culture (values and attitudes that are created within an organization).
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At the organizational level, leadership is considered a mixture of behaviors, administrative abilities, traits and interactions that are driven by the circumstances and the organizational culture; the link among various departments in an organization managed by the leader. An efficiency oriented leader takes advantage of emotional skills on terms of interaction in order to achieve the performance outcome. Emotional skills concern the more social aspect of emotional intelligence during the interaction process. Under these circumstances, leadership's outcome is significantly affected by leader's ability to recognise and manage followers' emotions in social interaction.
But how leader's effectiveness can be determined?
There is a wide range of facts that indicate leader's effectiveness.
Consistency with organizational culture and achievement of organizational goals
Establishment of a climate of trust and appreciation between the leader and the followers in the aim of achieving team and organizational visions
Leader's contribution to the quality of group processes such as the decision making process. In other words whether the leader contributes to the group's cohesiveness, motivation and development or not.
Leader's effectiveness depends on the manner of developing and enhancing followers' skills and abilities. "Personality characteristics in themselves do not make leaders inherently effective. What matters is how those characteristics are expressed to leaders' behavior, and how that behavior is understood by others" (John Arnold and Ray Randal et al., 2010). The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), the worldwide known Work and Organizational psychology organization, conducts research on what is effective leadership by highlighting the factors that lead to failure ("derailing"). Its study showed that even though there are common traits between those who succeeded and those who failed, certain characteristics seemed important for the upcoming failure; managers' promotion from lower levels of the organization to upper ones, led to over-confident behavior.
Since leadership is considered an emotional process, the level of Emotional Intelligence in a leader plays a significant role in the effectiveness of social interaction with others. An emotionally intelligent leader is able to understand followers' emotions and drive them accordingly. George J.M. (2000) in her article "Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence" underlines that there are five basic elements of leadership that are positively correlated with the level of emotional intelligence. The five key elements of effective leadership as presented by the authors Conger & Kanungo (1998), Lock (1991), Yukl (1998) are the following:
Development of collective goals and objectives
Instilling in others a sense of appreciation and importance of work
Generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, optimism, cooperation, and trust
Encouragement of in decision making and change
Establishing and maintaining meaningful identity for the organization.
Some researchers consider that transformational leadership, which involves leaders' visional position and inspirational attitude towards followers, is closely related to the ability of affecting the followers' emotional thinking. Also, Emotional Intelligence may turn out to be a competitive advantage within the workplace, as it contributes to the enhancement of the work performance by increasing cohesiveness among team members and fostering the ability to manage effectively stress and pressure. Unless Emotional Intelligence is applied in an efficient manner, it is doubtful that individuals and organizations can benefit from this dynamic tool.
"Emotional intelligence is the spark that ignites a company's performance creating a bonfire of success or a landscape of ashes." (Goleman, Boyatzis et al, 2002).
Recent research has been conducted, in an attempt to investigate the correlation between the level of emotional intelligence and the leadership effectiveness. The MSCEIT was used to measure emotional intelligence. The results showed that one's level of emotional intelligence might play an important role to the leadership effectiveness. However, according to the data analysis is doubtful whether the ability to understand emotions and the ability to act effectively are closely related or not.
Emotional Intelligence and Decision making process
It is common knowledge that the organization consists of several departments that interact in order to perform business; the interaction of these departments is managed by people making decisions. Under these circumstances, we realize the importance of the decision making process and the impact of their outcomes on organizational effectiveness.
The decision making process is classified in the following stages:
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Definition of the issue
Identification of limiting factors (external and internal)
Plan and development of potential alternatives
Evaluation of each alternative on terms of realism and cost
Selection of the best alternative
Implementation of decision
Feedback of the implementation
The decision making process involves the decision maker and those that are affected by the decision. The decision maker is essential to take into account the people affected by the decision and determine an effective manner of interpreting it. Subsequently, the decision maker is required to make use of rationality and logic as well as of emotions.
However, a controversial issue has aroused, due to the fact that some researchers consider that best decision is made in the absence of emotions. According to Stanovich and West (2000), the shift from emotional thinking to rationality can entail better decisions. They suggested that emotional functions may be substituted and replaced by logic in the aim of enhancing the quality of decisions. By contrast, others claim that the ability of good command of emotions is an advantage for the decision maker.
Actually, there is no wrong perception of the key factors of decision making process. What matters most, is to take into consideration and evaluate the possible impact that emotions might have on the decision making process.
Research on emotional intelligence and decision making process
It has been found (Sevdalis et al, 2007) that emotions are apparent during the decision making process. Research has been conducted on the fact that the emotions people experience from the impact of a decision, can affect their future attitude and behavior (Mellers et al, 1999). Also, Winter and Kuiper (1997) concluded that every person has a different perception of the emotions experiences. What is more, it has been noted that there is a significant difference on the effectiveness of emotional intelligence when the decision making process concerns individual or team tasks accordingly (Jordan and Troth, 2004).
As regards the team performance, Druskat and Wolff (2001) and Jordan et al. (2002) have underlined the fact that the higher level of team members' emotional intelligence, the better performance on team decisions.
However, the manner that emotionally intelligence practically contributes to the achievement of the desired outcome has not been empirically proven.
The contribution and application of emotional competencies to leaders as decision makers
Since the decision making process involves stages that are addressed both to brain and emotional function, it is essential to investigate and evaluate the impact of the application of Emotional Intelligence on decision makers and the potential outcome. For this purpose we apply the model of Goleman (2000), Boyatzis et al (2001) as it concerns individual skills and social - focused skills, which are both crucial and determinative for the decision making process. The group of the skills mentioned, involves self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.
In the organizational environment, the leader plays the role of the decision maker. Taking advantage of the competencies of emotional intelligence, the possibilities for making an effective decision are increased. The individuals' skills i.e. self awareness and self management enable the leader (decision maker) to acknowledge his/her weaknesses; recognize the possible influence that can have on the followers; boost his/her confidence. Why is this so important? Because, it helps the leader to foresee the different aspects of followers' vision as well as their reactions and communicate effectively the decision. Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1958) claimed that leaders and followers share control during the decision making process that is based on the assumptions they have formed for the amount of control they possess. A strongly efficient leader is not supposed to be very passive or domineering but to achieve balance during the decision making process; he/she should guide the discussion properly, act as a consultant encouraging the information exchange and the increase of comprehension as well. At this stage, emotional intelligence competencies can be applied, so as the leader can regulate the allocation of control among the parties creating a climate of cohesion. However, emotional intelligence application is as important as in the case of sharing responsibility for inappropriate decisions. An emotional intelligent leader not only welcomes the commendations of good decisions but also holds responsible for bad decisions. This reinforces leader's integrity and reliability, necessary elements for establishing a climate of trust and honesty in an organization. Moreover, through the self control the leader can develop the skill of controlling emotions and impulses i.e. stress tolerance, which derive from time pressure and unexpected changes in the organizational environment. The ability to manage time pressure and suppress negative emotions is considered of utmost importance, as enables leader to establish the appropriate climate for making decisions and avoid misjudgments that can have an adverse impact on organizational effectiveness.
Likewise, emotional social - focused skills i.e. empathy, organizational awareness, conflict management, change catalyst, teamwork and others, are highly important when they are implemented by the leader in an attempt to achieve the desirable outcome during the decision making process. On the grounds that most times the decision is addressed on employees, with different values and beliefs, the leader should be able to manage diversity through the skills of empathy and conflict management. On organizational basis, managing diversity and fairness achievement are considered to affect the decision making process and consequently the organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, organizational awareness enables leader as a decision maker, to make decisions that comply with the organizational status and determine the appropriate processes. On the basis of service orientation, decisions that are related to the customers' needs and satisfaction are highly appreciated within the organizational environment and add value (profitability) to the image of the organization. Last but not least, the decision making process involves active participation and constant interaction among members; emotionally intelligent leaders taking advantage of this fact can not only enhance the quality of teamwork and promote relationship development, but also ignite and stimulate followers' initiative, motivation and commitment.
Can Emotional Intelligence affect negatively the organizational effectiveness if it is excessively high?
Emotional Intelligence can influence leadership through personal interaction among leader and followers (physical circumstances).