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Emotional Intelligence in Healthcare Leaders and Nurses


The high quality of care is one of the primary concerns for patients and the responsibility of health care providers. One of the factors which influence the quality of care is effective leadership. It is evident that healthcare professionals should know and apply leadership styles and theories (Giltinane, 2013). As a rule, a leader has developed emotional intelligence. According to Walton (as cited in Giltinane, 2013, p. 35), emotional intelligence (EI) is “the ability to manage the effect of emotions on relationships with others.”

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Researchers believe that a good leader should have emotional intelligence in addition to analytical thinking skills, bright ideas, and proper training (Giltinane, 2013). Consequently, these issues should be considered in healthcare leadership training programs. It is important to inform healthcare professionals about EI theories, peculiarities of team building, styles of communication, and decision making.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership in Health Care

The concept of leadership is complex and can include many qualities and definitions. For example, Porter-O’Grady (as cited in Giltinane, 2013, p. 35) treats leadership as ” a multifaceted process of identifying a goal, motivating other people to act, and providing support and motivation to achieve mutually negotiated goals.” When it comes to the healthcare system, leadership gains specific features.

Thus, Cook states (as cited in Giltinane, 2013, p. 35) that leadership in clinical practice is a “direct involvement in clinical care while constantly influencing others to improve the care they provide.” According to Stoller (2013), effective leadership in healthcare can manage the issues connected with cost, access, and quality of care. Researchers agree that one of the crucial characteristics of an effective health care leader is emotional intelligence (Stoller, 2013).

EI is one of the constructs which have an impact on the quality of care together with spiritual intelligence, psychological ownership, and burnout (Kaur, Sambasivan, & Kumar, 2013). EI can be defined as “the ability to understand and manage oneself and to be aware of and manage relationships” (Stoller, 2013, p. 12).

There is no research directly supporting the idea of interdependence of EI and leadership (Giltinane, 2013). However, it is evident that leaders have to be aware of their own emotions and feelings if they want to be precise in defining the emotions of their followers. In the conditions of constant changes in healthcare, a leader needs EI. It is necessary to be confident of the staff’s concerns and not only control their reactions to changes (Giltinane, 2013). Leaders who possess EI should not be judgmental.

Managing emotions of the staff, helping them with overcoming stresses make a more efficient strategy. Moreover, EI is connected with supportive behavior, which includes the personal involvement of leaders in the cases connected with their followers. Thus, EI stimulates supportive behavior, which is particularly important in the sphere of healthcare.

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Emotional Intelligence Quiz Assessment

On the whole, EI is crucial not only for healthcare leaders but nurses as well. Kaur, Sambasivan, and Kumar believe that nurses able to distinguish emotions of their patients “are more likely to manage them and show better care towards patients” (2013, p. 3194). There exist a variety of emotional intelligence tests and quizzes. I have one of such quizzes with the result of 14 out of 20. It is considered a good result. The quiz demands attention and skills of emotion recognition. Similar emotions such as anger and frustration or happiness and enjoyment can be difficult to distinguish. However, emotion recognition skills can be gained with practice.

I suppose that the core idea of such quizzes is to train in reading emotions to improve emotional intelligence, which is helpful in healthcare practice. For example, for a nurse, the ability to distinguish emotions can be helpful when the patient cannot explain his or her feelings. Also, EI is useful during the patient’s examination. Also, it is proved that EI is one of the decisive factors which influence the caring behavior of nurses. It is important because caring behavior is crucial for the quality of patient care and, consequently, patient satisfaction.


On the whole, emotional intelligence is important in many spheres. Many investigations (Giltinane, 2013; Kaur, Sambasivan, & Kumar, 2013; Stoller, 2013) prove its necessity for healthcare, both for leaders and nurses. It should be kept in mind that EI is not a single factor in healthcare. When it comes to nursing care behavior, EI is usually influenced by spiritual intelligence. In its turn, EI has an impact on psychological ownership, burnout, and caring behavior of nurses.

Thus, the awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence and its inclusion into various spheres of healthcare practice should change attitudes to the problem. It can be recommended to include the development of emotional intelligence skills in the curriculum of healthcare leaders’ and nurses’ training. Healthcare professionals should be able to manage different situations in their daily practice, and the knowledge of leadership strategies together with EI skills will be useful for them. Their better management will also affect patients’ care and stimulate positive patient outcomes.


Giltinane, C.L. (2013). Leadership styles and theories. Nursing Standard, 27(41), 35-39. Web.

Kaur, D., Sambasivan, M., & Kumar, N. (2013). Effect of spiritual intelligence, emotional intelligence, psychological ownership and burnout on caring behaviour of nurses: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22, 3192-3202. Web.

Stoller, J.K. (2013). Recommendations and remaining questions for health care leadership training programs. Academic Medicine, 88(1), 12-15. Web.

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