SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
On-line version ISSN 0258-5200
PILLAY, Maggie; VIVIERS, Rian and MAYER, Claude-Helene. The relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership styles in the South African petrochemical industry. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2013, vol.39, n.1, pp. 1-12. ISSN 0258-5200.
ORIENTATION: Although research on emotional intelligence in the context of leadership has remained a recurrent area of interest in theory and practice during the past decade, ongoing debate continues regarding the contribution of emotional intelligence to the understanding of leadership. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between self-reported emotional intelligence and leadership styles in a South African context and to determine whether emotional intelligence can predict an effective leadership style. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Research is needed in order to determine a more detailed relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership in the dynamic and globalising South African petrochemical context. RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: The study was conducted in terms of a positivist paradigm, using quantitative research instruments. Leaders (N = 161) were selected from a business unit in a South African petrochemical organisation. Self-reports from the emotional quotient inventory and the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ Form 5X, Version 2009) were analysed. Correlation analyses indicated statistically-significant relationships between emotional intelligence and transformational and laissez-faire leadership. MAIN FINDINGS: Findings indicated positive correlations between self-reported emotional intelligence (specifically adaptability) and transformational leadership. Negative correlations were obtained between emotional intelligence (specifically intrapersonal skills) and laissez-faire leadership. The research also showed differences between specific demographic variables. PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: This study provides valuable significance for organisations' endeavours in improving, training and identifying alternative selection and assessment procedures for evaluating leaders' strengths. CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: This research contributes to the South African research on emotional intelligence and leadership styles and thereby adds context-specific value to the topic within a specific cultural and organisational context.