Increasing Emotional Intelligence of Employees: Evidence from Research and Development Teams in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Over the past two decades, emotional intelligence (EI) has become a topic of interest for psychological, educational, and management researchers. Numerous organizations have sent employees to various EI training courses offered by management consultants (Nelis, Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, & Hansenne, 2009; Yilmaz, 2009). In certain emerging leadership theories it is implied that emotional and social intelligence are important characteristics for leaders and managers to possess because cognitive and behavioral complexity and flexibility are key characteristics of competent leaders (Boal & Whitehead, 1992). Therefore, Brown and Moshavi (2005) proposed the following three mechanisms between transformational leadership (TFL) and EI; EI is an antecedent of TFL (see e.g., Wang & Huang, 2009), EI is a moderator between TFL and organizational outcomes (e.g., performance), and EI is independent of TFL. In addition, they called for future researchers to explore other relationships between TFL and EI. In this study we contribute a fourth mechanism to this list to explain the effects of TFL; this mechanism is found not in the perceptions of the leader or self, but is instead rooted in how TFL affects the development of employee EI behavior over time. We first addressed how TFL can influence an increase in the number of EI behaviors among employees over time.

With rare exceptions (Lance, Vandenberg, & Self, 2000), and even in previous carefully conducted longitudinal studies, EI has been treated as a static variable (i.e., a single point in time: see e.g., Furtner, Rauthmann, & Sachse, 2010; Wong & Law, 2002). In the present study our aim was to explore the EI construct with its antecedents and consequences, from the perspective of change over time. The fundamental premise that employees may adjust their levels of EI as a way of interpreting and making sense of their work context remains relatively unexamined.

In this study we employed a latent growth model to examine the effects of TFL on EI behavior development. Most previous EI studies have been cross-sectional in nature (e.g., Day & Carroll, 2004; Wong & Law, 2002), rather than examinations of changes in employee behavior triggered by TFL over time. Even longitudinal studies in this area have seldom included an examination of the long-term changes of EI (e.g., Nelis et al., 2009). Consequently, empirical evidence on whether EI strengthens, weakens, or remains stable over time is scant.

Theory and Development of the Hypotheses

Emotional Intelligence Conceptualization

Salovey and Mayer (1990) were the earliest to propose the term emotional intelligence to represent the ability of people to manage their emotions. They defined EI as "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions (p. 189)." In this study we adopted the Mayer and Salovey (1997, p. 10) definition of EI as "a set of interrelated skills concerning 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 regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth". Mayer and Salovey conceptualized EI as comprising four distinct dimensions. The first dimension is the appraisal and expression of emotion in the self (self-emotional appraisal, SEA), which relates to people's ability to understand their deep emotions and be able to express these emotions naturally. People with this ability sense and acknowledge their emotions well before most people. The second dimension is appraisal and recognition of emotion in others (others' emotional appraisal, OEA), which relates to people's ability to perceive and understand the emotions of those around them. …