Leadership Performance

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Understanding Leader Emotional Intelligence and Performance: The Role of Self-Other Agreement on Transformational Leadership Perceptions“, by John J. Sosik and Lara E. Megerian, both of Pennsylvania State University, currently appears in the most cited articles list  in Group and Organization Management, based on citations to online articles from HighWire-hosted articles. Professor Sosik has provided a personal reflection on the article:

What prompted you to do this research and write this article?

I had just finished reading Daniel Goleman’s book on emotional intelligence and immediately realized the central role of emotional expressiveness and emotional regulation in transformational/charismatic leadership processes. Lara Megerian, my graduate student at the time, also was interested in emotional intelligence in the workplace, and I encouraged her to pursue this research interest. We then published a theoretical paper on transformational leadership and emotional intelligence in the Journal of Leadership Studies, and the next logical step was to collect data to test some of our propositions in an empirical study.

Do you have any specific memories about doing the research, writing or the review/publishing process that you would like to share?

Convincing the host company that transformational leadership was the appropriate leadership style to examine was a challenge. Their culture was very transactional and old school. Their top management was eager to study emotional intelligence since it was all the rage back then. When it came to writing up the paper, we knew that a multi-source data collection and analysis approach would make the paper more interesting. We built upon the great work of Fran Yammarino and Leanne Atwater on self-other rating agreement, both of whom were big influences for me over my career.

Why do you think this research is important?

In our view, this research is important because it examines some personal attributes associated with emotional intelligence and how they are related to ratings of transformational leadership from both the leader and follower perspectives. Transformational and charismatic leadership processes rely, in part, on the leader’s acuity in recognizing and displaying positive emotions (e.g., enthusiasm, passion) appropriately. And these emotions can have strong motivational effects on followers through emotional contagion processes. Teaching managers how to leverage these processes in a constructive way can help their associates to create shared positive emotions according to more recent work in positive organizational scholarship and positive psychology.

Why are people reading it and who else should be exposed to it?

People are probably reading it because they identify with the concepts emotional intelligence and transformational leadership in their professional and personal lives. Both topics are the subject of much research, but the way they influence each other needs to be better explained. Besides doctoral students interested in the intersection of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, we feel that undergraduate and MBA students being introduced to the way transformational leaders rely on charisma to connect deeply with followers should read our work. Leadership developers and trainers might also benefit from its practical implications.

Give us a specific review of the impact of this article.

Well, the folks at Sage tell us that our article is one of the most cited and downloaded articles in Group and Organization Management. To the extent that citations and downloads reflect impact, our article seems to be influencing others and we’re really happy to see that.

What additional research has this article led to (either your own or other’s)?

Publishing this paper has directed me to work with many colleagues over the years to publish work on the role of self-monitoring (an aspect of emotional intelligence), character strengths (i.e., social intelligence), and other emotion-based personal attributes in transformational and charismatic leadership processes in a variety of academic journals. It also led me to work with Jae Uk Chun and other colleagues to develop and test a model of emotional intelligence and trust-building in the context of mentor-protégé relationships (Chun et al., 2010, GOM).

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