Exploratory Study of the Relationship Between Servant Leadership Attribution and the Leader‘s Emotional Intelligence
Jane T. Waddell
Although many researchers have studied servant leadership and emotional intelligence, there is a dearth of research on the two constructs combined. A review of the literature revealed only one study of servant leadership attribution and the leader‘s emotional intelligence. Management of employees has traditionally concentrated on the bottom line. However, recent research has indicated managing with a focus on employees and customers has raised employee satisfaction, fueled employee loyalty and productivity, and boosted external service value, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Greenleaf (1977) proposed a servant leader is servant first, and the desire to lead follows. This is the paradox; in serving the followers and ensuring their needs are being met, the investment in people drives the organization‘s profitability. Interest in emotional intelligence continues to grow and is described as ―a set of abilities that involve the way in which people perceive, express, understand, and manage their emotions as well as the emotions of others‖ (Cherniss, 2004, p. 315). One of the three emotional intelligence measurements that is widely accepted and has reported psychometric research is a self-assessment instrument, the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i; Bar-On, 2004a). Feedback from others can be compared with scores from the EQ-i in a 360-degree report, the Emotional Quotient-360 (EQ-360; Bar-On & Handley, 2003). This study utilized data from 44 professional and exempt leaders to examine the relationship of emotional intelligence to servant leadership attribution. Longbotham‘s (2007) Servant Leadership Inventory was utilized to measure the seven virtues of a servant leader according to Patterson‘s model, and the leader‘s emotional intelligence was measured by the followers‘ scores in the EQ-360. The research hypothesis, that there would be a positive relationship between servant leadership attribution and the leader‘s emotional intelligence, was supported by the data. Additionally, data analysis revealed 56.7% of the variance in servant leadership attribution was accounted for by only one of the EQ-360‘s subscales, the followers‘ perception of the leader‘s reality testing. This researcher postulates reality testing, defined by Bar-On (2004a) as the ability to accurately size up the situation, allows the servant leader to accurately assess the follower‘s highest priority needs.
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