Relationships Between Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Style, and School Culture

Relationships Between Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Style, and School Culture

Mirta R. Segredo, Peter J. Cistone, Thomas G. Reio
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3438-0.ch039
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Research regarding the association between emotional intelligence, leadership style and organizational culture has been inconclusive. The purpose of this study was to explore these relationships in elementary school settings. A non-experimental ex post facto research design was utilized to investigate four research hypotheses. Fifty-seven principals and 850 teachers within a large urban school district in southeast Florida were surveyed. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed positive associations between school culture and both transformational and transactional leadership, and negative associations between school culture and passive-avoidant leadership. Significant positive associations were found also between school culture and the principals' emotional intelligence after controlling for leadership style. The hierarchical linear regressions revealed significant associations between leadership style and school culture after controlling for school grade as well. The results suggest that emotional intelligence merits consideration in the development of leadership theory. Practical implications include suggestions that principals employ both transformational and transactional leadership strategies, and focus on developing their level of emotional intelligence. The associations between emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, contingent reward and school culture found in this study validate the role of the principal as the leader of school reform.
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Literature Review

Ample debate is evident in the literature vis-à-vis the conceptualization of emotional intelligence (Petrides & Furnham, 2003). The ability-based perspective of emotional intelligence was first posited by Salovey and Mayer (1990) and was defined as the ability to perceive emotions, use emotions to facilitate thought, understand emotion, and regulate emotions to achieve goals (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Their work was rooted in the theories of social intelligence first described as early as 1920 (Thorndike, 1920), and in the subsequent theories of multiple intelligences developed by Gardner (1983).

The trait-based conceptualization was introduced by Reuven Bar-On and is defined as a cluster of non-cognitive skills or competencies that affect one’s ability to successfully deal with environmental demands and pressures (Bar-On, 1997). This conceptualization was further developed by others, and is perceived as a learned ability that can be developed (Nelson, Low & Ellis, 2007; Petrides & Furnham, 2001). The theoretical foundations of emotional intelligence overlap, regardless of whether the construct is conceptualized strictly as an ability-based intelligence or as an array of traits and attributes (Petrides & Furnham, 2003). The distinction between the conceptualization of the construct is significant in conducting empirical research because various measurement methods have been developed, and research results are impacted by the manner in which the construct is conceptualized and operationalized (Petrides & Furnham, 2003; Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2007).

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