This paper aims to identify which top leaders’ behavioral emotional intelligence (EI)-competencies affect firm performance when considering the overall organization orientation toward efficiency, human resources and adaptability to the external environment as an interface (i.e. a filter) between the individual leader and firm outcomes.
The research was conducted on a sample of Italian top leaders. The authors used a cross-level analysis that distinguishes individual characteristics, mid-level performance determinants and organizational results. The authors used a variety of methods of assessment: behavioral event interviews for top leaders’ EI-competencies; subject matter experts’ evaluations for organizational orientation; a non-parametric statistical analysis for distinctive competencies; objective financial data for firm financial performance. To identify which competencies impact on financial performance, factor and regression analysis was used.
In firms oriented toward efficiency, human resources and adaptability to the external environment, top leaders’ people management EI-competencies are the most frequent distinctive abilities. These distinctive competencies can be further distinguished into task, relationship and change-oriented behaviors, although only the first two appear to be related to firm performance.
To foster firm performance, top leaders should leverage certain EI-related competencies, especially those that are task and relationship oriented. Leaders should not only see the organization as an extension of themselves but also be aware that the organization might obstacle their individual impact.
This original empirical study uses different data sources and methodologies, it assesses a multi-level model and is conducted in Italy. No previous empirical study has considered the organization as a filter – and not an enhancer – between the top leader and firm performance.
The authors want to thank the CUOA Business School for the support given to the project.
Tognazzo, A., Gubitta, P. and Gerli, F. (2017), "Fostering performance through leaders’ behavioral competencies: An Italian multi-level mixed-method study", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 295-311. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-07-2016-1044
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