Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology - Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


Does Emotional Intelligence (EI) make someone a better leader? I utilised a cross-sectional study to examine the relationships between leadership effectiveness and tests of EI, cognitive intelligence, and personality. The study consisted of two parts. In the first study, I examined the relationship between an ability measure of emotional intelligence, the Big Five personality factors, and cognitive intelligence with leadership effectiveness. In the study, 41 executives from a large Australian Public Service organisation completed a battery of psychological tests, which included the Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT trade mark), the Sixteen Personality Factor (16PF) questionnaire, and the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI). Leadership effectiveness was assessed using performance management ratings (i.e., participants were scored on their ability to achieve business outcomes and display effective interpersonal behaviours), and a multi-rater leadership measure scored by each leader s subordinates and their direct manager (N = 149). Correlational analyses revealed that higher emotional intelligence was associated with higher leadership effectiveness. Study II explored the link between an ability measure of EI and leadership effectiveness in more detail. This study extended that of study I by introducing a self-report EI measure and by examining the links between primary personality factors and EI. One hundred and twenty two executives from a large Australian Public Service organisation participated in the study. Executives completed a battery of measures similar to those in study one, with the addition of the Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT). Participants also submitted their performance management results. The findings indicated that the executives who achieved superior business outcomes scored higher on the EI ability test. Importantly, the ability measure of EI (the MSCEIT trade mark) predicted effective leadership over and above well-established workplace measures such as reasoning ability and personality. In contrast, self-reported measures of EI (the SUEIT) had little to offer over and above these measures of personality and reasoning. In both studies, an analysis of the individual ability EI subscales revealed that the most important subscale was Perceiving Emotions. A leader who is skilled in perceiving emotion is described as someone who knows what people feel, reads people accurately, is good at recognising their own feelings and can express their feelings appropriately. These skills may be important because they allow a leader to accurately capture important social data around them. In particular, it offers the ability to quote read between the lines unquote when dealing with people. These results have important implications on how we should select and develop executives.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.