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Leader emergence: the role of emotional intelligence and motivation to lead

Ying Hong (DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Victor M. Catano (Department of Psychology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada)
Hui Liao (Management and Organization Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 14 June 2011




As the employment marketplace changes, the meaning of leadership evolves. The question of whether emotional intelligence (EI) is required for leaders has attracted broad interest. This paper seeks to examine the role of EI and motivation to lead (MTL) in predicting leadership.


In study 1, students (n=309) first completed surveys and then, one week later (n=264), they engaged in leaderless group discussions where their levels of leader emergence were rated. In study 2, the participants were 115 students who undertook 14‐week class projects. They completed surveys including evaluations of members' leader emergence after they finished the projects.


The results suggest that participants who were high in affective‐identity MTL became leaders in leaderless discussions, while high social‐normative MTL individuals assumed leadership roles in long‐term project teams. Both studies found that use of emotions, which is a component of EI, was positively related to affective‐identity and social‐normative MTL and indirectly related to leader emergence.


This study is one of the first to examine the relationship between EI and MTL, as well as between MTL and leadership emergence.



Hong, Y., Catano, V.M. and Liao, H. (2011), "Leader emergence: the role of emotional intelligence and motivation to lead", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 320-343.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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