Follower emotional intelligence: A mediator between transformational leadership and follower outcomes

J. Irudhaya Rajesh (University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Verma Prikshat (Cardiff School of Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)
Paul Shum (School of Management, Western Sydney University – Penrith Campus, Sydney, Australia)
L. Suganthi (Department of Management Studies, Anna University, Chennai, India)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 2 August 2019



The purpose of this paper is to understand the impact of transformational leadership (TL) on follower emotional intelligence (EI) and examine the potential mediation role played by follower EI in the relationship between TL and follower outcomes (i.e. growth satisfaction in the job and job stress (JS)).


Data were obtained through survey using questionnaire collected from 908 employees who worked across six different sectors, i.e. manufacturing, IT, healthcare, hospitality, educational and public services in Southern India. The mediation model proposed in this study was tested using structural equation modelling and bootstrapping method.


The relationship between TL and Follower EI was significant. Follower EI was found to partially mediate the relationship between TL and followers’ growth satisfaction in job. Contrary to expectations, the follower EI did not significantly predict JS in this study and hence the follower EI did not mediate in the proposed model. However, follower EI and growth satisfaction in the job jointly mediated the relationship between TL and follower JS fully.

Research limitations/implications

Self-report bias about supervisors’ TL behaviours and followers’ own EI assessment and collection of data from the mono-source (subordinate self-report) might have impacted the results of this study. Moreover, some items were negatively worded and reverse coded as cognitive speed bumps to restrain the respondent’s tendency to rush through answering the survey questionnaire.

Practical implications

This study established a partial and joint mediation of follower EI on the relationship between TL and follower outcomes. Basing on these findings, this study highlights the need for the practitioners to better understand the importance of EI training for the leaders in the organisations for obtaining better outcomes in the followers.

Social implications

The study establishes the fact that the attunement of transformational leaders’ EI and follower EI help leaders as well as followers to guide their behaviour towards positive outcomes.


This study is among the first to examine the impact of TL on follower EI and the potential mediation of follower EI between TL and follower outcomes. From a theoretical perspective, this study is one step closer to fully understand the intervening process between TL and follower outcomes.



Rajesh, J.I., Prikshat, V., Shum, P. and Suganthi, L. (2019), "Follower emotional intelligence: A mediator between transformational leadership and follower outcomes", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 1239-1260.



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