Emotional Intelligence: The link between shifting from transactional to transformational leadership.

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Managers and leaders are responsible for creating an environment in which their followers are able to respond effectively to the demands of constant change.

In the realms of leadership theories we know there are varying forms ranging from the Great Man Theories (Stogdill, 1948), to Transactional leadership (Max Weber, 1947 and Bernard Bass, 1981) and Transformational leadership (James MacGregor Burns, 1978). 

James MacGregor Burns (1978) also distinguished between transactional and transformational leaders by explaining that: transactional leaders are leaders who exchange tangible rewards for the work and loyalty of followers. Transformational leaders are leaders who engage with followers, focus on higher order intrinsic needs, and raise consciousness about the significance of specific outcomes and new ways in which those outcomes might be achieved.

One leadership style may not fit all. For a leader to accurately diagnose which leadership behaviors align with a follower’s needs and motivation processes, emotional intelligence skills are critical. Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (2000) defined the concept of emotional intelligence as the ability to understand and express emotions within one’s self, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to recognize and reason with emotions, and to manage emotions within relationships to others. Great leaders know that leadership is not built on transactions alone, but on acknowledgment of the human spirit (Goleman, 1998; Maccoby, 2007; Seltzer & Bass, 1990).

Evidence points to emotional intelligence as the pivotal tipping point between transactional and transformational leadership. When employees are engaged, they are emotionally connected to others and cognitively vigilant to the direction of the team (Harter et al, 2002). Great leaders connect emotionally with their followers. Emotional Intelligence is the key to unlocking employee engagement taking them from just doing the basics and following directions to finding meaning and passion in their work.  

So the questions to ask yourself are:

  • How is your emotional intelligence? How did you come to that self-assessment?

  • What if you were to ask others how they interpret your emotional intelligence? What would they say?

  • Do you want to find the key to unlocking staff engagement and shift from telling to transforming?

Contact me to find out how you might do this.