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Fostering performance through leaders’ behavioral competencies: An Italian multi-level mixed-method study

Alessandra Tognazzo (Department of Economics and Management, University of Padova , Padova, Italy)
Paolo Gubitta (Department of Economics and Management, University of Padova , Padova, Italy and CUOA Business School , Vicenza, Italy)
Fabrizio Gerli (Department of Management, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice , Venezia, Italy)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors want to thank the CUOA Business School for the support given to the project.

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited