The emotional impact of leaders' behaviours

Julie Fowlie, Matthew Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this article is to analyse MBA students' actual experiences of both good and bad leadership and the resulting emotional responses; to determine which emotionally intelligent competencies, if any, have greater importance in times of change. Design/methodology/approach – The paper follows a deductive approach: moving from the general to the particular based within the phenomenological paradigm, extending Goleman's inductive research into emotional intelligence competencies. Goleman's framework was adopted because his research was based upon competency models from both private and public organisations, which matches the MBA students' experiences. Findings – The findings suggest that bad leadership equates to a lack of self-management and relationship management competencies; however good leadership is not the exact opposite. If a person has developed self-management competencies it does not follow that he/she will be considered a good leader. Leaders should aim to have a clear focus on their followers; in other words, highly developed relationship management competencies. It also appears that face-to-face communication is relevant. Research limitations/implications – The research adopted a qualitative approach, with a small sample, which limits the generalisability of the findings. Also, the interpretation of the responses was based on the researchers' knowledge of Goleman's model, which could be considered to be subjective. Practical implications – This research could be used to support HRD professionals in the design of both selection and developmental programmes for managers, including competency descriptions, introduction of testing and developmental activities. Originality/value – The paper discusses the role of emotions in management and adds to the evidence that the competencies within the relationship management quadrant could be used as selection and developmental criteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of European Industrial Training
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Change management, Competences, Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Management development, Students


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