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EASTERN UNIVERSITY

THE PERCEIVED ROLE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE ON


THE LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS OF EXECUTIVE-LEVEL
WOMEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE LEADERS

by
AYISHA E. SERENI

A dissertation proposal submitted to the


College of Business and Leadership in partial

fulfillment of the requirements

for the degree Doctor of Philosophy


St. Davids, Pennsylvania
September 20, 2017
ii

ABSTRACT

Women leaders play a critical role in the operation of higher education institutions.

However, research that informs how women navigate leadership positions in higher education is

limited. Moreover, few studies have examined the role of emotional intelligence in the lives of

women leaders in these settings. This investigation explored how executive-level women leaders

in the community college sector of higher education perceivedthe role of emotional intelligence

in their leadership approaches. This investigation found a total of three major themes:

considering the big-picture, obtaining constructive feedback, and increasing perceptivity, which

includes the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding consequences, and

responding appropriately. The ultimate significance of this study is that it serves as a starting

point to advance the understanding of women leaders in the community college sector of higher

education, it elucidates the importance of emotional intelligence to women community college

leaders, and this investigation gives us insights in womens own voices into the executive-level

leadership experiences of women community leaders.


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DEDICATION

The completion of this dissertation is only possible due to the immense support that I

have received from my family- to whom I am truly grateful. This study is dedicated to my mom,

my husband, and my two sons.


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This is an optional page for acknowledgments. It is a nice place to thank the faculty,

family members, and friends who have helped you reach this point in your academic career.No

page number appears on any of the pages up to this point. If you do not wish to include this page,

delete the heading and the body text; if a blank page remains, delete the page break above but

leave the section break that you see below this text.This section will follow.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................................... ii
DEDICATION ............................................................................................................................... iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................................... iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................................................................................................ 5
CHAPTER 1 ................................................................................................................................... 8
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 8
Women in Educational Leadership ............................................................................................. 9
Effective Leadership ................................................................................................................. 10
Research Question and Significance ......................................................................................... 12
Chapter Overviews .................................................................................................................... 15
Definition of Terms ................................................................................................................... 17
Emotion(s) ............................................................................................................................. 17
Emotional Intelligence (integrated model) ............................................................................ 17
Executive-Level ..................................................................................................................... 17
CHAPTER 2 ................................................................................................................................. 19
Literature Review.......................................................................................................................... 19
Background of Leadership Theory............................................................................................ 19
Trait-based approaches. ......................................................................................................... 20
Situational or Contingent approaches. ................................................................................... 21
Transactional and Transformational Leadership approaches. ............................................... 22
Relational approaches. ........................................................................................................... 24
Emotional Intelligence .............................................................................................................. 25
Models of Emotional Intelligence ............................................................................................. 28
Behavioral Model. ................................................................................................................. 28
Ability Model. ....................................................................................................................... 30
Trait Model. ........................................................................................................................... 32
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An integrated approach to emotional intelligence. ................................................................ 33


Women and Leadership ............................................................................................................. 35
Community College Leadership................................................................................................ 37
Successful community college leadership. ............................................................................ 39
Women community college leaders. ..................................................................................... 39
CHAPTER 3 ................................................................................................................................. 44
Methodology ................................................................................................................................. 44
Qualitative Research Design ..................................................................................................... 44
Phenomenological Research Approach ..................................................................................... 45
Researcher Positionality ............................................................................................................ 46
Researcher as an instrument. ................................................................................................. 48
Dependability and Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research .................................................... 49
Potential bias.......................................................................................................................... 49
Data integrity. ........................................................................................................................ 50
Saturation. .............................................................................................................................. 50
Research Participants ................................................................................................................ 51
Criteria for inclusion in the study. ......................................................................................... 51
Selection procedures. ............................................................................................................. 51
Data Collection .......................................................................................................................... 52
Semi-structured interviews. ................................................................................................... 52
Data Analysis ............................................................................................................................ 55
Coding. .................................................................................................................................. 55
Thematic analysis. ................................................................................................................. 56
Markers of quality. ................................................................................................................ 56
CHAPTER 4 ................................................................................................................................. 60
Research Findings ......................................................................................................................... 60
Participant Demographics ............................................................................................................. 61
Themes .......................................................................................................................................... 62
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Considering the Big Picture ................................................................................................... 62


Obtaining Constructive Feedback ............................................................................................. 65
Increasing Perceptivity .............................................................................................................. 67
Distinguishing unspoken cues. .............................................................................................. 68
Understanding consequences. ................................................................................................ 69
Responding appropriately. ................................................................................................. 72
Summary of Research Findings .................................................................................................... 75
CHAPTER 5 ................................................................................................................................. 77
Discussion of Research Findings .................................................................................................. 77
Consider the Big Picture ........................................................................................................ 78
Obtaining Constructive Feedback ............................................................................................. 81
Increasing Perceptivity .............................................................................................................. 84
Distinguishing unspoken cues. .............................................................................................. 84
Understanding consequences. ................................................................................................ 86
Responding appropriately. ................................................................................................. 90
Emotional Intelligence in Practice ................................................................................................ 92
CHAPTER 6 ................................................................................................................................. 95
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 95
Significance of Study ................................................................................................................ 95
Limitations and Future Directions for Research ....................................................................... 97
Implications for Practice ........................................................................................................... 98
Conclusion .................................................................................................................................. 102
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................... 104
Table 1 ........................................................................................................................................ 124
Appendix A: Informed Consent (Semi-structured interviews) ................................................... 125
Appendix B: Interview Protocols (Semi-structured interviews) ................................................. 129
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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

The prosperity of a countrys economy and its people is contingent upon the quality of its

educational system (St. Rose & Hill, 2013). The network of community colleges across the

United States contributes to its economic growth and social stability by providing access to an

affordable and quality education to millions of students (Oliver & Hioco, 2012; Propheter & Jez,

2012). In the fall of 2014, 42 % of all undergraduate students and 25 % of all full-time

undergraduate students were enrolled in a community college (Ma & Baum, 2015).

Women comprise 57% of students at community colleges. More than 4 million women

are enrolled in community colleges, exceeding the total number of women enrolled in 4-year

colleges and universities (St. Rose & Hill, 2013). Moreover, women are more likely to lead

community colleges than 4-year colleges or universities (Catalyst, 2015). The American

Association of Community Colleges (2013) reports that three out of five leaders serving in

executive, administrative, or managerial level positions in community colleges are women.

Across all higher educational institutions, The Chronicle of Higher Educations2014 Almanac of

Higher Education reported that 42% of new deans, and 48% of new provosts, were women.

Moreover, 38% of all new deans, and 31% of new provosts, were hired from within their

institutions, and 74% had held previous administrative roles at their college or at another

institution.
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Women in Educational Leadership

Effective leadership is a critical contributor to the success of an educational institution

(Collings, Conner, McPherson, Midson, & Wilson, 2010). Longman and Madsen (2014) have

highlighted the important roles that women leaders play in higher education settings. In addition

to serving as role models for both male and female students, women also serve as advisors,

supporters, and mentors to other women leaders or aspiring women leaders within the institution.

In light of this, the higher education sector needs more women leaders who are prepared to

assume senior-level leadership roles, who can provide sustainable decision-making practices, and

who can bring their diverse perspectives to the organization (White, 2011).

Despite the critical role that women play in higher education leadership, there is

insufficient empirical data related to effective women higher education leaders (Bryman &

Lilley, 2009; Elliott & Stead, 2008; Platsidou, 2010). Additionally, although enrollment numbers

reflect the role of community colleges in the higher education sector, community colleges have

been overlooked as being a key member of the higher education sector (St. Rose & Hill,

2013).The combination of lacking scholarly research on effective women higher education

leaders along with the dearth of research on community colleges presents a timely research

opportunity to fill an empirical void on women leaders in the community college sector of higher

education. This study will focus on women leaders in the community college sector of higher

education as a means of contributing an inclusive perspective on leadership in such settings and

of helping to fill an important void in the literature.


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Effective Leadership

Historically, effective leadership has been measured by assessing a leaders knowledge or

ability to stimulate productivity in her followers (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978; Fiedler, 1964; Katz,

1955; Stogdill, 1948). In contemporary settings, however, effective leaders are expected to do

more than in the past to ensure the sustainability of organization. Expectations now include

motivating and inspiring followers, fostering a feeling of belonging, and maintaining an amiable

work environment (Dabke, 2016). However, in the community college sector of higher

education, leaders must meet the same requirements while also demonstrating a service-oriented

contemporary leadership skill-set. Community college leadership is complicated by external

threats such as decreased funding, declining enrollments, and increased performance demands

(Oliver & Hioco, 2012).

In light of such changes, contemporary theory and research efforts have focused on the

search for exceptional leaders with more universally effective features (Chemers, 2000). In

particular, recent empirical findings suggest that effective leaders tend to possess a particular set

of emotional intelligence skills that positively contribute to successful leadership (Platsidou,

2010). Such skills comprise a capacity to regulate ones emotions, convey compassion, and to

inspire oneself and others (Boyatzis, 2011; Goleman, 1998; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). In many

ways, an effective leader is likewise expected to be proficient in the crucial emotional

intelligence skill of relating to others (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey,

1997; McClelland, 1973; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).Emotional intelligence has been viewed as a
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core trait of effective leaders and is referred to as the sine qua non of leadership; that is, without

emotional intelligence, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive analytic

mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but she still wont make a great leader (Goleman,

1998, p. 93).

Research has repeatedly documented the key role of emotional intelligence as an

important aspect of effective leadership (Herbst, 2007; Herbst & Maree 2008; Parrish, 2015).

Specifically, research has shown that leaders who have emotional intelligence competencies

tend to be more receptive to the emotional needs or behaviors of others and therefore are more

likely to function as effective leaders compared to leaders who do not possess emotional

intelligence (Parrish, 2015). Emotional intelligence skills include an ability to regulate emotions,

to convey empathy, and to motivate oneself and others (Boyatzis, 2011; Goleman, 1998; Salovey

& Mayer, 1990).

Higher education leaders who have emotional intelligence skills are said to be more

respected by colleagues, students, and staff members and are viewed as being more effective

leaders (Parrish, 2015). Being seen as an effective leader, in turn, can lead to advancement to

higher level leadership positions (Conroy, 1997). An effective academic leader must also be

empathetic, motivating, and able to self-manage emotions (Bryman, 2009; Parrish, 2015).

Empathy can be defined using a variety of constructs (Cuff, Brown, Taylor, & Howat, 2014). In

this study, empathy is defined as a leaders ability to accurately identify and understand another
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person, their concerns, needs, and abilities while at the same time being able to manage their

productivity (Parrish, 2015, p. 827).

Effective academic leaders can leverage emotional intelligence skills by motivating and

influencing positively others to advance the mission of the institution. Emotional intelligence

skills are likewise critical to establishing a standard of behavior that offers others a positive

model of behavior to follow (Parrish, 2015).

Research Question and Significance

In the present study, institutions of higher learning will refer to accredited, degree-

granting entities, which include 2- and 4-year colleges, private and public universities, as well as

non-for-profit and for-profit entities in the United States. Community colleges are a subset of

institutions within the higher education sector. Community colleges offer affordable open-access

educational opportunities for a diverse student population with unique learning needs (American

Association of Community College, 2016). More than 1,100 community colleges exist in the

United States and are responsible for serving nearly half of the countrys undergraduate college

students (White House, 2015).

This study will focus on women leaders who have advanced into executive-level

leadership positions within community college contexts. The National Center for Education

Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) (2016) describes an

executive-level leader as someone who serves in a non-instructional administrative role such as

president, vice-president, assistant vice-president, associate vice-president, dean, assistant dean,


13

or associate dean. The primary professional responsibilities of an executive-level leader

comprise the management of the institution or an established department or unit within the

organization. Leadership responsibilities for such roles may include governance, policy

development and implementation, and daily business operations of the institution or assigned

unit(s). An executive-level leader must use sound discretion, as well as independent judgment;

these individuals can be responsible for fiscal oversight that involves the analyzing and

projecting of financial operations, the hiring or termination of managerial-level staff, negotiation

and approval of legally binding contracts, and engaging in communications with stakeholders

such as other executives or trustees.

In particular, the current study will explore how women leaders in the community college

sector of higher education perceive the role of emotional intelligence in their leadership

effectiveness by examining the following research question: How do women community college

leaders perceive the role of emotional intelligence on their executive-level leadership

experiences?

Specifically, this study will address a number of gaps in the literature related to gender-

based leadership in the community college sector of higher education. First, research that

informs how women navigate leadership positions in the higher education sector is limited

(Madsen, Longman, & Daniels, 2012). Secondly, existing leadership research has typically been

generated by male investigators who have embodied a male-centric view that does not
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sufficiently represent women leaders who may desire to advance into positions of greater

influence and power (Longman & Madsen, 2014, p. ix).

Studying emotional intelligence from the perspective of women leaders is likewise

important for several reasons. In doing so, a researcher engages in critical inquiry supporting the

validity of womens perceptions and knowledge. Additionally, learning from womens

experiences provides an opportunity for generating alternative leadership approaches when

power relations or gender constraints adversely impact women's learningandroles. Studying the

experiences of executive-level women leaders may also provide deeper understanding of the

challenges that such women encounter, as well as the ways in which emotional intelligence can

serve to advance womens leadership skills, including their own career progression (Stead,

2013).

By focusing on the perceived role of emotional intelligence on the leadership

effectiveness of executive-level women community colleges leaders, this study will: (1) explore

how such women perceive their emotional intelligence skills and howthose skills may contribute

to the sustainability of the institution; (2) advance scholarly understanding of womens

distinctive experiences in executive-level leadership roles in community colleges; (3) offer

additional insights related to the perceived value of emotional intelligence skills to women

leaders; and (4) increaseunderstanding of how women leaders mayemploy emotional intelligence

skills to lead institutions successfully.


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Chapter Overviews

Chapter 2 begins with a review of theliterature on leadership and prominent theories

related to effective leadership. Next, contemporary aspects of effective leadership are described

along with a review of the behaviors related to leadership effectiveness. An overview of

emotional intelligence theories and their relation to effective leadership is also presented, with

particular attention to the ways in which emotional intelligence may be relevant to the

experiences of women leaders serving within the context of higher education, and community

college settings in particular.

Chapter 3 describes the methodological foundations of the study and identifies the

philosophical assumptions that undergird the investigation. Specifically, this study utilizes a

phenomenological qualitative research design as a mechanism for understanding womens

perspectives on their experiences serving in an executive-level leadership capacity in the

community college settings. Phenomenology is a qualitative methodology that provides a

researcher the means to examine the personal perspectives of individuals who have shared a

common experience (e.g., the phenomenon). Phenomenological approaches assume that human

beings seek meaning from their experiences. The research question explored within

phenomenological approach must be clearly articulated and also lived by the investigator; that is,

the researcher interrogates a phenomenon to the point of becoming part of the lived experience

(Van Manen, 2015).


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Phenomenological approaches rely on selectively-chosen, small sample sizes that are

typically acquired through purposive sampling (Gill, 2014). Study participants will currently

hold, or will have held in the past 12 months, positions such as community college president,

vice-president, assistant or associate vice-president, dean, and assistant or associate dean.

Following discussion of the phenomenological approach, Chapter 3 provides a detailed account

of the intended sampling and recruitment, data collection, data analysis, and data integrity

strategies.

Chapter 4 presents the research findings along with an in-depth description of the key

themes and subthemes that emerge from the data analysis process. Emphasis is placed on

understanding the essence of participants leadership experiences, with particular attention to

women leaders perceptions relative to the role of emotional intelligence on their leadership

effectiveness.

Chapter 5 presents a discussion of findings as integrated with the literature. Additionally,

the implications of womens leadership experiences are presented. I will describe and interpret

the lived experiences reported by the participants, with the intention of creating understanding

and awareness of how executive-level women in this study perceive the role of emotional

intelligence in their leadership journeys.

Chapter 6 offers recommendations for future research on the impact of emotional

intelligence on women community college leaders. In addition, the long-term significance of this

study is explained, and implications for practice are provided. A description of how and when to
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apply the results of this study to achieve leadership effectiveness are also included; final

suggestions that support organizational sustainability complete the chapter.

Definition of Terms

The following definitions are provided as a means to clarify the manner in which a

particular term is applied in this study:

Emotion(s) - ones controlled mental reaction or response to a particular experience (Bar-

On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; and Salovey &

Mayer, 1990).

Emotional Intelligence (integrated model) - the integrated model of emotional intelligence

takes the commonalities of the major emotional intelligence theorists and combines them into one

integrated model which comprises the appraisal of a social situation, or interpersonal exchange,

resulting in a greater awareness of the impact of ones emotional responses in that situation; the

regulation of emotional responses in oneself or others; and the ability to adapt ones emotional

response to achieve a desired outcome(Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey,

1997; McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Executive-Level - an individual who serves in a non-instructional administrative role in a

college, such as president, vice-president, assistant vice-president, associate vice-president, dean,

assistant dean, or associate dean, and whose primary professional responsibilities comprise the

management of the institution or an established department or unit within the organization. In

addition, responsibilities may include governance, policy development and implementation, and
18

daily business operations of the institution or assigned unit(s). An executive-level leader must use

sound discretion, as well as independent judgment; these individuals can be responsible for fiscal

oversight that involves the analyzing and projecting of financial operations, the hiring or

termination of managerial-level staff, negotiation and approval of legally binding contracts, and

engaging in communications with stakeholders such as other executives or trustees (National Center

for Education Statistics,2016).


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CHAPTER 2

Literature Review

The intent of Chapter 2 is to introduce the leadership literature that frames the study and to

provide a foundation that supports the current investigation. The chapter begins with a presentation

of classical leadership theories followed by discussion of contemporary approaches to effective

leadership. An overview of theoretical and empirical literature focusing on the association of

emotional intelligence to effective leadership is then presented, with particular attention to the ways

in which emotional intelligence may be relevant to women leaders experiences in general and

within higher educational settings in particular.

Background of Leadership Theory

First, this review will provide a brief background of previous leadership theories that

impact contemporary views on effective leadership. Although the entire volume of leadership

literature is immense and therefore beyond the scope of this review (Kinicki, Jacobson, Galvin,

& Prussia, 2011), this section focuses on various aspects of effective leadership and

understanding specific constructs associated with effective leadership relevant to the current

study. This section serves to outline the progression of leadership theory and to identify the key

leadership models which emerged that are relevant to emotional intelligence. This is important

since emotional intelligence does not align with a single leadership model; rather, each theorist

has created a model of emotional intelligence rooted in principles of earlier leadership theories.
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Trait-based approaches. Early leadership studies concentrated on personality traits or

behaviors (Chemers, 2000). The Great Man Theory is an example of an early trait-based leadership

approach that described effective leadership as a distinct feature of extraordinary people whose

decisions profoundly altered historical events (Zaccaro, 2007). Researchers Carlyle (1849) and

Galton (1869) suggested that leadership traits were inherent qualities that were present at birth and

passed from one generation to another.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, Stogdill, however, questioned the universality of

leadership traits (Shollen, & Brunner, 2014). Stogdill (1948) advocated that no consistent set of

traits differentiated successful leaders from non-leaders; rather, he argued that a leader who was

able to effectively lead in one situation might not be a successful leader in a different leadership

context. He also asserted that instead of leadership being a quality that individuals possess,

leadership is a relationship among people who find themselves in a particular social situation.

Subsequently, a prominent study conducted by Katz (1955) categorized leader behaviors

into three distinct types of skills. The three-skill approach suggested that effective leadership was

comprised of technical, human, and conceptual competencies. More specifically, Katz proposed

that technical skills encompass an activity that involves particular approaches, procedures, or

processes. Technical skills require specific knowledge, analytical capacity, and certain expertise

with particular techniques or tools. Human skills reflect a leaders ability to work with people and

to involve a leaders response to the actions of others. Katz suggested that a leader with favorable

human skills is an effective communicator who understands others and is sensitive to their needs
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and motivations. Katz expected that human skills would be developed unconsciously and become

an essential component of effective leadership. Finally, in Katzs theory, conceptual skills comprise

consideration of an organization as a whole and the impacts of decisions on the organization. Katz

expected that conceptual skills require a creative perspective that allows a leader to recognize and

react to stakeholders ideas, plans, or interests. Katz considered a developed conceptual skill-set as

the most important of the three skills since conceptual skills establish a unifying aspect of the

organization.

Situational or Contingent approaches. Following the trait-based theories, researchers

began to explore the aspects of traits related to interactions in a given leadership situation. Fiedler

(1964) introduced an integrative leadership model that considered variations between a leaders

group and her leadership style. Fiedler posited that to predict group effectiveness, it was necessary

to identify a classification system that considered varying situational leadership factors.

Specifically, to determine a leaders effectiveness, Fiedler believed that first it would be necessary

to understand to what extent the group environment influences the leaders effectiveness. A

favorable group environment would make it easier for a leader to influence her group members

whereas an unfavorable environment would make it harder to sway her group members.

Fiedler (1964) proposed a classification system of three situational factors that affected a

leaders influence on a team. Fiedler posited that leader-member relations, task structure, and the

position power of a leader determined the effectiveness of the leader. The relationship between a

leader and her key group members is considered the most vital determinant of leader effectiveness.
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A leader who is liked or valued can obtain compliance more so than a leader who is adversely

viewed. Second, since a task can be regarded as an order from a leader, the level of ambiguity or

clarity will impact a leaders authority. For example, a highly defined task conveys a leaders

authority more so than an undefined task. A leader who assigns an undefined task is viewed as

uninformed since a clear path of completion is not provided. Third, a leaders position power is

considered regarding her ability to obtain compliance from her group based on her ability to offer

rewards or impose sanctions. Also, the level of authority the leader has over her team, and the level

of support from the organization to the leader in exerting her power establishes the extent of

position power. The position power of a leader may be measured by her ability to motivate her

group or by her ability to influence what or how a group member communicates to others. The

opinions and perspectives of a leader with strong position power are highly valued.

Transactional and Transformational Leadership approaches. House (1977) introduced a

subsequent leadership theory, charismatic leadership, which gained prominence in the leadership

literature. Charismatic leadership principles suggest that leaders act in unique ways that have

specific charismatic effects on their followers. House proposed that charismatic leadership reflected

the ability to inspire, to motivate, and to expect high performance from others based on strongly

held core values. Characteristics of charismatic leadership includes being visionary, inspirational,

self-sacrificing, trustworthy, decisive, and performance oriented. House also described charismatic

leadership traits as being dominant, possessing a strong need to impact others, and having self-

confidence as well as a strong sense of one's ethical standards. Finally, a charismatic leader
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demonstrates poise, models exemplary behavior, and emphasizes collective identity (Shamir,

House, & Arthur, 1993).

Leadership theory was again reshaped with the introduction of Burns (1978) seminal book

titled Leadership. Burns presented the concept of leaders who considered the motives of followers

and classified leadership actions as either transactional or transformational. Burns suggested that the

leadership constructs of transactional and transformation were positioned on opposite ends of a

single continuum, rather than being singular or mutually exclusive.

According to Burns (1978), transactional leadership focuses on the exchanges occurring

between leaders and followers. Transactional exchanges are contingent upon an agreement or a

promise. A transactional exchange involves the exchange of consideration from one party to

another and is used as the primary factor to accomplish a goal or complete a task. Thus,

transactional leadership involves an exchange between a leader and follower that involves

accommodating the self-interest of either party (Bass, 1999). However, other scholars have argued

that transactional leadership approaches are not conducive to building trust or to establishing the

incentive in order to realize the workforces full potential (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999).

Conversely, transformational leadership is a process through which the leader engages

with followers to raise the level of motivation and morality in her followers. A transformational

leader, therefore, focuses on the needs and motives of the followers and is committed to helping

followers reach their fullest potential (Northouse, 2004). Bass and Avolio (1993) suggest that the

most effective leaders tend to exhibit both transformational and transactional leadership traits.
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Transformational leadership was expanded by Bass (1985) to include the concept of

prioritizing follower needs above the needs of a leader. Bass further incorporated emotional and

charismatic personality features. Additionally, Bass augmented Burns work by identifying specific

attributes that transformational leaders possessed. These qualities included charisma, inspiration,

individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation. Basss work ultimately influenced

contemporary models of effective leadership based on emotional intelligence, which will be

explored next.

Relational approaches. In the latter part of the 1970s and into the 1980s, yet another

leadership theory emerged which was referred to as the Leader-Member exchange theory. Leader

Member exchange (LMX) theory sees leadership as a process that is focused on the interactions

between leaders and followers, and makes the dyadic relationship between leaders and followers the

central point of the leadership process. Before LMX theory, researchers treated leadership as

something leaders did toward all of their followers. The LMX theory challenges the assumption that

leaders treat followers in a collective way as a group; instead, the LMX theory focuses its attention

on the differences that might exist between leaders and followers. LMX theory first began to

surface in research conducted by Graen and colleagues (Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975; Graen &

Cashman, 1975; Graen,1976).

A strength of the LMX theory is that it validates the experience of how people within

organizations relate to each other and to the leader. LMX theory is unique as it is the only

leadership approach that makes the dyadic relationship the focus of the leadership process; it
25

directs attention to the importance of communication in leadership which leads to positive

organizational outcomes (Northouse, 2012).

Yet another relational approach to leadership is Authentic leadership. Authentic leadership

is composed of four distinct but related components: self-awareness, internalized moral perspective,

balanced processing, and relational transparency (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). Over a

lifetime, authentic leaders can learn and develop each of these four types of behavior (Northouse,

2012).

Emotional Intelligence

Contemporary aspects of effective leadership are rooted in behaviors associated with

emotions and intelligence. Next, an overview of emotional intelligence models and their

significance to effective leadership is presented, with particular attention to the ways in which

emotional intelligence may be relevant to the experiences of women leaders serving within the

context of higher education and community college settings.

One well-known definition of emotion(s) focuses on an individuals controlled mental

reaction or emotional response to a particular experience (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios,

2001). Emotion(s) play a significant role in leadership sustainability and effectiveness. Leaders

often rely on emotional expressions (Schneider, Gardner, Hinojosa, & Marin, 2014, p. 413) to

communicate with and influence others. A leader who exhibits favorable emotions is typically

perceived positively. Conversely, a leader who displays conflicting emotions may diminish her

professional persona. Effective leadership requires identity stability (Schneider, et al., 2014, p.
26

428) to sustain a leadership role. By displaying and experiencing positive emotions, a leader is

likely to portray a professional identity resulting in greater leadership effectiveness (Schneider,

et al., 2014).

Emotions are interpreted, or appraised, through verbal and non-verbal communication

referred to as the act of labeling. The labeling of emotions requires the interpretation of verbal or

non-verbal cues to appraise the intent of the gesture sometimes referred to as a signal. For

example, a shift in ones voice or body language assigns or conveys specific emotional meaning

to the signal (Castro, Cheng, Halberstadt, & Grhn, 2015; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Moreover, emotions may assist with rational decision-making resulting instable behaviors

(Caruso & Salovey, 2004). The extent to which a person tolerates change equates to ones

adaptivity (Boyatzis, 2011). Salovey and Mayer (1990) suggest that a leaders success is

dependent upon her ability to adapt to the demands of a given leadership situation.

Relatedly, intelligence involves abstract capabilities such as identifying parallels amongst

unrelated matters as well as the capacity to evaluate individual components and to recognize

their likeness individually and collectively. Abstract thinking requires the processing of ones

thoughts (Mayer, et al., 2001). Thus, intelligence may be measured by ones actions in various

circumstances in which different cognitive abilities or behaviors lead to differing conclusions

(Dowe & Hernndez-Orallo, 2013).

Emotional intelligence, which merges emotions and intelligence, is defined as a group of

cognitive activities that helps people recognize their feelings and those of others (Klenke, 2002).
27

Emotional intelligence is a component of human intelligence that influences ones ability to

identify, comprehend, control, and use emotions in solving problems of a personal and

interpersonal nature(Bar-On 2001; Salovey& Mayer, 1990). An emotionally intelligent leader

possesses a keen ability to recognize emotions clearly in oneself and others; to leverage emotion

in order to support ones thoughts and actions; to recognize how emotions impact one's actions

and those of others; and to regulate one's emotional responses (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995,

1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Contemporary emotional intelligence theory is rooted in the work of psychologists who

have proposed complementary, yet distinct, emotional intelligence constructs (Bar-On, 2010;

Caruso, 2003; Cherniss, 2004). In the absence of a universal definition of emotional intelligence

or its assessment, this review will identify the prominent approaches to emotional intelligence

and explain key differences (Shapira-Lishchinsky & Levy-Gazenfrantz, 2015). It is important to

develop an understanding of contemporary emotional intelligence theory because there are

multiple approaches presented in the scholarly literature, as well as in the non-scholarly sector

(Caruso, 2004; Emmerling & Goleman, 2003). However, historical underpinnings of emotional

intelligence theory are intentionally not included in this review since historical information is

outlined in great detail in the previouswork of Bar-On (2010), Caruso (2003), and Cherniss

(2004).
28

Models of Emotional Intelligence

A review of the scholarly literature suggests that models of emotional intelligence are

classified into one of three categories which include competencies or behaviors, abilities, and

traits (Boyatzis, 2011; Spielberger, 2004). Over time, two distinct factions of emotional

intelligence models have emerged in the literature. This section explores these models and then

provide the rationale for a single uniform approach that will inform this study.

Behavioral Model. The Behavioral model of emotional intelligence theory focuses on a

leaders skills or behaviors. Behavior is defined with the accompanying purpose of identifying,

contemplating, and leveraging emotional information regarding oneself or others resulting in

optimal performance (Boyatzis, 2009). Ones competence is contingent upon possessing a skill-set

that is acquired within a particular context (Matthews, Prez-Gonzlez, Fellner, Funke, Emo,

Zeidner, & Roberts, 2015). Research related to competencies offers insights related to ones

abilities, as well as prospective approaches to improvement (Boyatzis, 2011).

McClelland, Boyatzis, and Golemans models. The theorists associated with the

Behavioral model of emotional intelligence comprise the first faction, often referred to as the

Hay Group faction. A seminal article authored by McClelland (1973) suggested that ones key to

interpersonal success includes relational proficiency. Interpersonal aptitude requires a person to

communicate effectively by using words, physical expressions, and/or signals. Additionally,

interpersonal aptitude relies on ones response to others by recognizing unspoken cues and

responding in a manner that sets the emotional tone (McClelland, 1973). Setting the emotional
29

tone involves the identification of cues or signals that establish which signs are relevant or not

and which are of certain relevance in circumstances when ambiguous expressions are displayed

(Barrett, Mesquita, & Gendron, 2011). Additionally, McClelland (1973) proposed the clinical

concept of response delay (p. 10), otherwise known as "tolerance", as an essential component

in setting the emotional tone.

McClelland's students, Goleman, and Boyatzis, continued this line of work. A

longitudinal research study conducted by McClelland and Boyatzis (1982) identified that one

way effective leaders are distinguished from average leaders is based on the emotional

intelligence competencies that effective leaders display. Later, Goleman defined emotional

intelligence as ones ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others

(Goleman, 1995, p.2) resulting in exceptional performance (Goleman, 1998).

Goleman (1998) further summarized the various emotional intelligence traits into two

broad categories: self-management and the ability to manage others. Self-awareness, self-

regulation, and motivation relate to a persons self-management skills; empathy and social skills

relate to how a person manages relationships with others (Goleman, 2004). Regardless of which

definition is used, Goleman (1998) has observed that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be

developed when the appropriate supports are in place.

The Hay Group: Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI) and the Emotional and

Social Competence Inventory (ESCI). Additionally, McClelland founded and served as

chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the McBer consulting company until 1985 when the
30

McBer firm merged with the Hay Group. Under the auspices of the Hay Group,Boyatzis and

Goleman (1996) developed the 360-degree assessment tools titled the Emotional Competence

Inventory (ECI) and subsequently, the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI)

(1999), as a means of assessing the conceptual model of emotional intelligence. The ESCI

measures behavior by evaluating how a person articulates the management of her emotional,

social, and cognitive intelligence in personal and professional environments (Boyatzis, 2011).

The ESCI approach is built upon behavioral observation or informant accounts as opposed to

self-report methods (Boyatzis, 2011). Accordingly, ESCI informants are typically selected by the

person who is the subject of the assessment, as is the case with a 360-degree evaluation. Since

the ESCI requires the use of informants who are familiar with the subject, the potential for bias

being conveyed into the assessment responses exists, thereby raising concerns of reliability and

validity (Boyatzis, Good, & Massa, 2012).

Ability Model. Another model of emotional intelligence is the Ability model, which defines

and measures intelligence or a set of abilities. There is no exact standard for gauging ones ability in

emotional perception; therefore, it may require a strong aptitude in reading unspoken cues

indicating a mistake has occurred. Moreover, commonplace social exchanges may not be effective

in assessing ones capability in emotional perception compared to others (Matthews, et al., 2015).

The theorists associated with the Ability model of emotional intelligence comprise the second

faction, often referred to as the Multi-Heath Systems faction.


31

Mayer, Salovey, and Carusos models. In 1990, Salovey and Mayer introduced their

concept of emotional intelligence. They posited that emotional intelligence comprised an ability

to evaluate the feelings and emotions of oneself and others. They also suggested that emotional

intelligence included an ability to distinguish among the feelings and emotions of others to guide

ones own thoughts and actions.

The 1990 Salovey-Mayer model of emotional intelligence was later updated and referred

to as the Mayer-Salovey model (1997). The original definition was amended because it neglected

to consider ones own feelings and instead focused only on ones ability to evaluate feelings and

emotions or to distinguish amongst the feelings and emotions of others to guide ones thoughts

and actions. Mayer and Saloveys (1997) revised definition expanded the original concept of

emotional intelligence to include the four-branch model of emotional intelligence. The four-

branch model includes a leaders capacity to accurately recognize, evaluate, understand, and

express emotion and emotional knowledge in order to promote emotional and intellectual

growth.

Multi-Health Systems (MHS): Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test

(MSCEIT). The work of Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey (2002), under the auspices of the Multi-

Health Systems (MHS) organization, resulted in the development of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso

Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). The MSCEIT is an ability-based assessment that

measures an individuals perception of emotions as reported by the individual (Mayer, 2002).

The MSCEIT measures the management of ones emotions (Boyatzis, 2011) and evaluates ones
32

mental ability through a performance assessment that results in an appraisal of the respondents

abilities (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000). Boyatzis (2009) countered the effectiveness of this

approach by suggesting that the management of ones emotions can only be measured by those

who interact with the person and have observed her actual behaviors in action.

The MSCEIT is currently considered the leading test for emotional intelligence (Maul,

2012). However, Maul (2012) has questioned the validity of the MSCEIT stating that additional

theoretical clarification is necessary. The founders of the MSCEIT, Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso,

rebutted Mauls assertions reiterating that aside from the technical limitations inherent in any

form of assessment, improvements in the MSCEIT are anticipated (Mayer, Salovey, &

Caruso,2012).

Trait Model. The Trait model of emotional intelligence explores an individuals personality

traits that support the recognizing, handling, and responding to emotion-related circumstances

(Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts, 2012). Research suggests that ones cognitive skills, as outlined in

the Behavioral or Ability models of emotional intelligence, better predict ones processing of

emotions more so than the Trait Model of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995, 1998; Matthews,

et al., 2015; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). However, the

Trait Model of emotional intelligence relies on the use of the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i),

available as a self-assessment (Bar-On, 1997), or more recently (Bar-On, 2004), a multi-rater

instrument. The EQ-i requires an individual or designated rater to answer a series of questions
33

related to the subjects emotional and social skills potentially yielding subjective findings (Keefer,

2014).

To this end, it is suggested that the Trait model of emotional intelligence may be better

suited to assess ones resilience when faced with a difficult situation rather than assessing

competencies, behaviors, or abilities in managing daily interactions with others (Matthews, et

al., 2015). Keefer (2014) proposed that self-report measures may result in subjective reporting in

instances when study participants are reluctant or unable to respond accurately to the assessment,

thereby leading to the selection of responses that are random. However, Keefer (2014) supported

the use of self-assessments in conjunction with more objective measures.

An integrated approach to emotional intelligence. Although it is important to

acknowledge the differences among the primary emotional intelligence models, ultimately it may

be most productive to utilize an integrated approach to emotional intelligence (Cherniss, 2010).

As established above, there has been much debate concerning the concept of emotional

intelligence as demonstrated by the multiple models that have emerged on the subject (Bar-On,

1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer,

1990). Variations among the models of emotional intelligence have resulted from the models'

development by different theorists for contrasting uses (Muyia, 2009). Although not frequently

acknowledged by their proponents, in spite of the distinct differences in approaches to emotional

intelligence theory, there also exist a number of commonalities between the models.
34

Commonalities among the contemporary models of emotional intelligence suggest that an

effective leader possesses a keen ability to adapt to change, lead authentically, acknowledge

emotions in herself and others, leverage emotion in order to support her thoughts and actions,

recognize how emotions impact her actions and those of others, and regulate her emotional

responses (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973;

Salovey & Mayer, 1990).Considered collectively, emotional intelligence competencies include

the appraisal, expression, and regulation of ones emotional responses in oneself and in others

through verbal and nonverbal communication (Castro et al., 2015). Appraisal of ones emotional

responses involves the objective evaluation of relevant data before forming an opinion or coming

to a conclusion and requires a keen sense of awareness of others (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner,

Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008). The regulation of ones emotional responses originates in one of

three applications, either with oneself, with specific others, or with others in a general context.

Regulation of ones emotional responses involves the recognition of ones emotional state and

understanding of ones reactions in various settings. The regulation of ones emotional responses

with specific others relates to instances when there is a familiarity or acquaintance with another

person or persons. The likelihood exists that people who are acquainted may have an

understanding of how the other person is likely to respond or display emotions (Castro, et al.,

2015).

Following Cherniss (2004) call for an integrated model to emotional intelligence, the

current study will employ a unified approach to emotional intelligence based on the common
35

aspects of existing emotional intelligence theory (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer &

Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).The common aspects are rooted in

ones interpersonal adaptability (IA). IA comprises the appraisal of a social situation, or

interpersonal exchange, resulting in a greater awareness of the impact of ones emotional

responses in that situation, the regulation of emotional responses in oneself or others, and the

ability to adapt ones emotional response to achieve a desired outcome.

Women and Leadership

Now more than ever, it is necessary to develop and retain qualified women leaders who

are prepared to apply a multitude of skills in their leadership practices (Madsen, Longman, &

Daniels, 2012). The importance of having women represented in leadership roles has been well-

documented across many industry sectors (Kezar, 2014). For example, women leaders bring a

special set of skills to a leadership position. Bornstein (2007) proposes that women lead

complex lives that make them adaptive, creative, and responsive (p. 22) in their approaches to

leadership. For example, it is not uncommon for contemporary working women to serve as a

primary caretaker for both children as well as aging parents. In these instances, a person is

referred to as being a part of the sandwich generation, as she is inserted in the middle of two

generations that require care should the need arise (Pines, Neal, Hammer, &Icekson, 2011). By

managing personal and professional responsibilities, as well as the associated pressures or stress

factors, women may become prepared to meet many of the demands that a position of leadership

comprises using an adaptive and responsive approach (Bornstein, 2007; Madsen, 2010).
36

Madsen (2010) suggests that an essential component of effective leadership for women is

learning that occurs through observation or seeing people manage leadership situations that arise.

Examining women and their leadership experiences offers importantinformation thatmay

contribute to the expansion of existing leadership theory and may lead to the identification of

novel leadership approaches that may be more useful to womens leadership practices than

traditional approaches(Elliott & Stead, 2008; Toms, Lavie, del Mar Duran, & Guillamon,

2010).To this end, the current study will allow the researcher to participate in critical and

collective thinking (Caretta & Riano, 2016, p. 6) related to the influences of womens

leadership practices and everyday experiences in an area in which women have been traditionally

underrepresented.

Specifically, this study will present knowledge that may be helpful to women who are

seeking to advance to higher-level leadership positions (Brown & Irby, 2005). The study will

attempt to understand women and their leadership experiences with an emphasis on the how and

why women come to act, think, and feel the way that that they do (Paludi, 2007, p. 7) within the

context of their leadership roles. Moreover, in circumstances when women leaders convey

authentic and commendable behaviors (p. 275), women leaders are still less respected and

appreciated than their male counterparts. Once women leaders are regarded as being more

similar to male leaders, the observed, or perceived, imbalance between womens gender roles

and leadership roles may lessen (Stempel et al., 2015). Investigating the lived experiences of
37

women leaders allows the researcher to engage in critical inquiry that acknowledges womens

understanding as valuable.

Additionally, research focused on womens lived experiences offers an opportunity for

women to produce other leadership approaches in circumstances in which power relations

adversely impact the advancement of women. In this respect, exploring the experiences of

executive-level women leaders may be useful in providing an understanding of the challenges

that such women face and the ways in which emotional intelligence may serve to advance

womens leadership skills (Stead, 2013).

Community College Leadership

Leaders in the community college sector of higher education are currently faced with

unprecedented challenges. A number of higher education trends currently impact leaders in the

community college sector of higher education. First, a lack of community college leaders may be

imminent due to pending retirements of many existing community college leaders (Eddy, 2013).

Second, community colleges have become popular as a result of open-admissions policies that

provide access to students who are considered to be at-risk academically, as well as underserved

populations who otherwise would not have access to a college education (Propheter & Jez,

2012).

In spite of such challenges, an economic impact study conducted by Economic Modeling

Specialists International (EMSI;2014) documented the positive impact of the community college

sector of higher education on multiple stakeholder groups. These stakeholders included


38

businesses that can employ qualified workers who are trained in their field, citizens who benefit

from lifestyle improvements and employment, and federal, state, and local governments that

depend upon the collection of tax revenue - as well as benefitting from a reduced demand for

government-subsidized social services. Furthermore, in addition to economic gains, it has been

documented that benefits of attending a community college include improved health, overall

well-being, reduced incidents of criminal activities, and reduced need for public assistance

(Belfield & Bailey, 2011).

Recent national initiatives have called on community colleges to serve more students than

ever before (Lumina, 2015; The White House, 2015). The Lumina Foundation Goal 2025

initiative proposes to award 60 percent of Americans witha college degree or credential (Lumina,

2015). Similarly, former President Obamas initiative, titled the College Promise Campaign

(CPC), proposed to make the first two years of community college free for responsible students

(The White House, 2015). The expectations of government agencies, as well as the needs of

private sector employers, positions community colleges to be increasingly accountable for

educating the workforce (Oliver & Hioco, 2012; Propheter & Jez, 2012).

At the same time, community college leaders are faced with decreased state and federal

funding that has resulted in flat or declining budgets. Combined with having to do more with

less, community college leaders encounter increased stressors and decreased incentives for

advancing into higher level leadership positions (Oliver & Hioco, 2012). This dynamic

challenges mission-driven community college leaders who are passionate about the impact of
39

their work and strive to achieve social justice for all students (Oliver & Hioco, 2012). Applying

emotional intelligence skills to the challenging dynamic of leading a community college may

help position these community college women leaders for success.

Successful community college leadership. Identifying skills that contribute to effective

leadership increases the likelihood that desirable organizational outcomes may be achieved (Smith

& Wolverton, 2010). For example, in a report issued by the American Association of Community

Colleges entitled Competencies for Community College Leaders, six essential skillsare identified

that community college leaders should develop to be effective leaders. These skills include a

leaders ability to be strategic, resourceful, communicative, collaborative, advocative, and

professional. Several of these competencies align with recognized principles of emotional

intelligence, including building relationships, possessing keen communication skills, and forming

key partnerships all of which relate to key emotional intelligence skills. Elements such as the

dynamic nature of community colleges, the multifaceted skill set required of executive-level

leaders, and regional differences will impact the leadership proficiency of a community college

leader (McNair, Duree, & Ebbers, 2011).

Women community college leaders. Bornstein (2007) explains that due to the fear of

failure, women leaders desire to feel thoroughly prepared before advancing into a leadership role,

potentially resulting in the delay of their leadership career advancement. This is due to the common

practice in the higher education sector staffing critical leadership positions with existing personnel

who may have insufficient leadership training or experience at the time of promotion (Rowley &
40

Sherman 2003). The practice of promoting from within the organization suggests that women

higher education leaders will likely advance from a previous leadership role within the same

organization, although research by Eddy (2013) on the community college sector indicated that

many women leaders do not plan or strive to achieve such senior-level leadership positions. Thus,

in order to reduce barriers for women leaders, shifting the perception of women leaders as

competent, appreciated, and valued leaders is crucial (Stempel, Rigotti, & Mohr, 2015).

Madsen (2012) suggests that preparing women leaders to advance into positions of

influence and power through leadership development is necessary. Specifically, research that

informs how women leaders prepare, achieve, and retain positions of influence within their

organization is an essential component of leadership development. Moreover, an increase in the

gender diversity of higher education leaders is also necessary as gender-based obstacles prevent

women from advancing to top leadership positions in institutions of higher education. Clearly,

the higher education sector needs more women leaders who are equipped to undertake senior

leadership roles.

Research that informs how women navigate leadership roles in the higher education

sector, and particularly in community college settings, however, remains inadequate (Madsen,

Longman, & Daniels, 2012). Therefore, investigating the lived experiences of senior women

leaders may generate important information related to womens leadership advancement in the

higher education sector (White, 2011).


41

Although research related to effective leadership is abundant, there is insufficient

empirical data related to women higher education leaders despite the critical role that women

play in higher education leadership (Bryman & Lilley, 2009; Elliott & Stead, 2008; Platsidou,

2010). Moreover, the majority of research related to leadership in the higher education sector has

been generated mostly by male researchers and is primarily comprised of studies related to male

leadership, representing a male-normed culture of higher education (Longman & Madsen,

2014, p. ix) leading to unequal and hierarchical research relationships.

Monitoring workplace trends can address organizational biases. For example, the

tendency to refer to a woman, or women, who hold leadership positions as a means to

demonstrate that gender inequity does not exist in a particular organization only serves to

promote gender inequity. As a result, potential women leaders may be discouraged from

pursuing leadership roles. Focusing on these types of institutional barriers can support system-

level change that supports existing and future leaders (Bonebright, Cottledge, & Lonnquist,

2011).

By identifying, preparing, and advancing (Longman & Madsen, 2014, p. x) women

higher education leaders, the higher education sector has much to gain, including the staffing of

vital leadership positions with women who are readyto manage successfully the institution. One

means of contributing to this goal is to examine the perspectives of women higher education

leaders experiences, thereby expanding the knowledge base related to effective leadership
42

practices used currently among women and enhancing the development of future women leaders

(Madsen, Longman, & Daniels, 2012; Trinidad, & Normore, 2005).

Given the wide array of pressures currently facing colleges and universities, the task of

identifying qualified and effective leaders who can advance to key administrative positions has

become increasingly challenging (Madsen, 2010). A shortage of skilled leaders may relate in part

to the fact that only a limited number of women in higher education are being encouraged and

equipped to advance into vital leadership positions (Madsen, 2012). Moreover, research that

informs how women navigate being in a leadership role in the higher education industry is

scarce. Since the success of a countrys economy and its citizens is reliant upon the quality of its

educational system, effective educational leadership is of paramount importance (St. Rose &

Hill, 2013). Thus, this study will investigate womens leadership practices with the goal of

gaining a deeper understanding of the role of emotional intelligence in women leaders

professional experiences (Toms, Lavie, del Mar Duran, & Guillamon, 2010).

Because there is a scarcity of empirical data related to the meaning of emotional

intelligence to higher education leaders or the relevance of emotional intelligence to leadership

advancement (Bryman & Lilley, 2009), in this study I seek to understand the role that emotional

intelligence plays in the leadership experiences of executive-level female community colleges

leaders. An important and relevant way to gain insight into howwomen leaders experience

emotional intelligence is to explore their lived experiences and perceptions of their leadership

and emotional intelligence skills (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011). Thus, by examining the day-to-
43

day leadership activities of executive-level women leaders, this study seeks 1) to reveal how

women leaders may effectively operate and sustain a career in the higher education sector within

community colleges, and 2) the ways in which emotional intelligence informs these women

leaders' approaches to their leadership.


44

CHAPTER 3

Methodology

The intent of Chapter 3 is to introduce the research methodology used in the study. The

chapter begins with an explanation of the phenomenological research design and is followed by a

discussion regarding the nuances of my serving as the instrument of inquiry. An overview of study

participants, data collection, and methods of analysis completes the chapter.

Qualitative Research Design


According to Patton (2012), a qualitative research design involves a researcher who

investigates, documents, and interprets the lived experiences of an individual or group in order to

gain an understanding of what a person does, knows, thinks, or feels (Patton, p. 170, 2012). A

research design includes a description of the researchers views towards the nature of reality

referred to as a worldview (Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006). A worldview is a set of principles

or beliefs that direct actions (Guba, 1990).

The role of worldview in qualitative research is important, particularly when that research

is approached from a social constructivist perspective. According to Guba (1990), social

constructivists approach their research with the belief that others view the world differently, and

through qualitative research strive to better understand the world around them. Applying a social

constructivist worldview to this study positions me as part of the research. In the context of the

investigation, as the researcher I can acknowledge my life experiences and any potential

influences on my interpretation of the research subjects experiences (Creswell, 2012). I must


45

also attempt to view the phenomenon in the absence of bias and from an objective stance (Finlay,

2008).

Phenomenological Research Approach

A social constructivist worldview aligns well with a phenomenological research method

given that phenomenology offers me an authentic account of a particular lived experience from

the subjective perspective of the study participant(s).The phenomenological approach represents

a means to convert lived experiences into a written manifestation that is both reflexive and

insightful (Van Manen, 2015) by exploring the significance of a phenomenon through the

subjective views of research participants who have experienced the same occurrence (Finlay,

2012; Patton, 2015; Vandermause, & Fleming 2011; Van Manen, 2015).

By using a phenomenological research approach, I strive to attain a full understanding of

a phenomenon through a process of inquiry in the context of the experience (Hein & Austin,

2001) by means of a dialogue between myself and the study participant (Van Manen, 1990).

Establishing resonance with the audience is one goal of describing the essence of an experience

in a manner that captures and conveys the nature and importance of a phenomenon (Van Manen,

2015). In this study, I investigated the phenomenon of serving as a woman executive-level

community college leader and explored the subjective meaning of the impact of emotional

intelligence on women leaders lived experiences (Eberle, 2015).


46

Researcher Positionality

Phenomenological research allows an investigator to reach an understanding of the world

and its people (Deetz, 1974). Typically, phenomenological research involves an investigator

who has an interest in, or is deeply connected to, a particular phenomenon. In many instances,

this curiosity turns into a research question (van Manen, 1990, p. 33). An investigator who

approaches her study from a phenomenological stance may be biased and unable to separate her

preconceptions regarding the phenomenon under investigation; accordingly, there is an

expectation that I disclose any preconceptions and incorporate this information into the research

findings (Tuohy, Cooney, Dowling, Murphy, & Sixsmith, 2013). The study participants

subjective interpretations are understood to be a critical component of knowledge generation.

As a qualitative researcher who conducted research on an organization in which I am also

a member, I needed to carefully consider any potential risks to the study participants,

specifically, the possible influence or potential to exploit relationships when soliciting an

insiders viewpoint (Moore, 2012). With this in mind, I next outline information related to my

background as a community college executive-level woman leader.

In 2007, upon retiring from a successful real estate career, I began my academic career in

the community college sector of higher education. Since that time, I have worked in various roles

for the same community college: first as an adjunct instructor, where I taught online so that I

could continue to be a stay-at-home mother of my two young boys, who at the time were four

and five years old, respectively. Subsequently, I have served as the program coordinator of the
47

entrepreneurship, management, and marketing disciplines in addition to overseeing workforce

development and non-credit business programming initiatives.

In 2009, when my sons began elementary school full-time, I moved into a temporary

full-time administrative role as Interim Director of the then-newly formed Center for

Entrepreneurial Studies (CES). This position was intended to have a term of only one semester;

however, it was unexpectedly continued for three years until 2012, when I became a permanent

full-time administrator in a newly formed Administrative Director position. The following year, I

advanced to the Interim Assistant Dean role and served at the dean level until early 2017. At that

point, I was approved as an education provider by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission,

which positioned me to then establish The Main Line School of Real Estate where I currently

serve as President and Lead Instructor, outside of the community college environment.

Upon beginning my career in higher education in 2008, I had not intended to pursue a

position as a full-time college administrator, and therefore had no formal leadership training at

that time. Indeed, my formal education only included an associates degree in General Studies

and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. In 2010, in order to expand my

teaching opportunities, I enrolled in a masters in business administration (MBA) program.

While enrolled in the MBA program, I learned about the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

program at Eastern University. Although I had not intended to become a higher education

leader, let alone pursue a Ph.D. degree, this program was appealing to me due to the hybrid

delivery method and professional opportunities that I would be able to pursue with this
48

specialized credential. Thus, I began my doctoral studies in August 2011, and in August 2014 I

became a Ph.D. candidate in Organizational Leadership.

As a woman in an executive-level community college leadership role, I have been

inspired and motivated by the scope of my work. I have striven to make an impact on the future

not only of students but also on other women administrators who aspire to fill vital leadership

roles on community college campuses. It is my hope that other women community college

leaders may be able to relate to my research findings or to gain insight into the role of emotional

intelligence in their own career advancement. The influence of my own experiences, along with

my awareness of the limited existing empirical research related to this research topic (Cliffe,

2011), led me to conduct the current study.

Researcher as an instrument.Although researcher bias is a potential concern given my role

of the researcher serving as the instrument of inquiry, there are also certain advantages to this

scenario, particularly since I share the participants lived experience. For example, as a researcher

who has served as a community college administrator, I may possess a keener understanding of

participants perception and interpretation of their lived experience than a researcher who has not

experienced serving in this role.

Similarly, as a researcher who has knowledge of sensitive aspects of the participants

experiences, I am positioned to build a rapport between myself and the study participants

(Berger, 2015). Thus, serving as the research instrument, my lived experiences, views, and
49

background have been beneficial to the study and have served to undergird the credibility of the

investigation (Patton, 2015).

Dependability and Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research

Dependability and trustworthiness in a qualitative investigation focus on honesty and

transparency with respect to possible researcher bias, study objectives, or potential imperfections

that may exist. A disclosure regarding how these aspects may influence the research assures

credibility and helps to foster a sense of trust (Tracy, 2010).

Potential bias. I maintained rigor and integrity of the study by identifying and explicating

any possible bias and its potential impact on my analysis of the data and description of the study

findings (Horsburgh, 2003). Semi-structured qualitative interviews were used as the primary source

of data for this study. Given the nature of the research design, the possibility of researcher bias

existed as I served in two crucial rolesprincipal investigator and research instrument (Patton,

2015). In studies in which one person serves as both the lead investigator as well as the research

instrument, the potential for bias exists, given that the researcher is able to influence or effect data

collection, analysis, and interpretation (Pezalla, Pettigrew, & Miller-Day, 2012).

Reflexivity. In order to minimize research bias, I approached the study from a self-

reflexive manner that allows critical analytic scrutiny (i.e., self-assessment) at all stages of the

research process (Patton, 2015). The use of reflexivity allowed me to recognize the various ways

in which I might influence the study findings. Reflexivity infers that I am not an objective entity,

nor does it limit bias. Instead, reflexivity is a means to bring bias to the forefront (Clancy, 2013).
50

In order to address any potential biases that might arise, I considered my current

position relative to the study and was mindful of the implication of my views on the study.

Effects of bias may be reflected in having some influence on the setting, research participants,

interview questions, data collection, analysis, and interpretation (Berger, 2015). Through each

phase of the study, I maintained a balance between my own views and those of the women

who participated in the study. Berger (2015) suggests that reflexivity can be accomplished by

maintaining a log of the dialogue between researcher and participant(s), revisiting the log at

various points during the study, as well as seeking peer feedback, which in this study is

provided by the Dissertation Committee Chair. Accordingly, I incorporated these methods in

my study in order to uphold integrity and trust.

Data integrity. Data integrity is of particular importance in studies in which the researcher

serves dually as lead investigator and the research instrument (Horsburgh, 2003). I maintained the

highest possible level of data integrity, and strove to balance familiarity with my own leadership

experiences while being mindful to not impose my views on the study participants (Pillow, 2003).

Additionally, I was committed to providing detailed evidence that data saturation was achieved and

how it was accomplished (Bowen, 2008).

Saturation. The saturation point of data collection occurs when a further investigation does

not uncover any new thematic categories relative to the emerging theory construction. Transcripts

provide a detailed account of the participants responses which demonstrate how the point of data
51

saturation is determined. Also, the study itself provides a contextual account of the interview setting

and the environmental effects that might impact the interview (Rapley, 2001).

Research Participants

Criteria for inclusion in the study. In this study, women who have served as executive-

level community college administrators for at least one year comprised the sample. Study

participants currently hold, or have held in the past 12 months, positions such as community college

president, vice-president, assistant or associate vice-president, dean, and assistant or associate dean.

Primary professional responsibilities of an executive-level leader comprise the management of the

institution, or an established department or unit within the organization. Leadership responsibilities

for such roles may include governance, policy development and implementation, and daily business

operations of the institution or assigned unit(s). An executive-level leader must use sound discretion

as well as independent judgment. These individuals are responsible for fiscal oversight that involves

the analyzing and projecting of financial operations, the hiring or termination of managerial-level

staff, the negotiating and approval of legally binding contracts, and the engaging in

communications with stakeholders such as other executives or trustees (IPEDS; 2016).

Selection procedures. Prospective study participants were identified through purposive

sampling based on their being representative of the target population as determined by the

researcher (Polit & Beck, 2004). Because purposive sampling was used, study participants were

familiar with the research topic because of their lived experiences. Additionally, participants were

likely prepared to share their story as part of the data collection process (Vandermause, & Fleming
52

2011). Subsequent snowball sampling was used in order to identify additional study participants. I

contacted participants via email with details of the study and an invitation to participate.

Sample size. The sample size is determined when data collection efforts yield the

researcher repetition of salient points or reach the point when the data become redundant and no

new information is able to be gleaned from the informants (Speziale & Carpenter, 2003).

Ultimately, seven women were included in the study.

Data Collection

Data collection followed a fully documented approach that was pre-determined. This

approach positioned me to obtain rich interpretations of the participants leadership experiences

in a fluid and conversational manner (Mutepa, 2016; Smith, 2012; Strike &Taylor, 2009;

Vandermause, & Fleming 2011).

Semi-structured interviews. In this study, qualitative data collection methods included a

60 to 90 minute semi-structured initial interview for data-gathering along with a 60 to 90 minute

follow-up interview for probing and for clarifying data for accuracy (Guest, Namey, & Mitchell,

2012). At times when I needed to expand the depth of previous data that was gathered or to address

gaps in the emerging analysis, follow-up communication was conducted via email or telephone.

Semi-structured interviews positioned me to more fully understand the lived experiences of

executive-level women community college administrators by obtaining a textual account of their

perceptions of the influence of emotional intelligence on their leadership experience (Moustakas,

1994). The study conveys how these study participants identify, describe, feel, perceive, recall,
53

and make sense of the influence of emotional intelligence has on their leadership effectiveness

(Patton, 2015).

Informed consent. Before beginning the process of data collection, study participants

were provided with necessary disclosures that are a critical part of obtaining their informed

consent. Appendix A contains the Informed Consent form used in the study. Stipulations

included that participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous; only the Principal

Investigator would know the identity of the study participants. Participantsprovided a pseudonym

as part of the informed consent process; that pseudonym was used throughout the process of data

analysis and reporting in order to protect their anonymity.

Interview protocols. I followed a detailed interview protocol (see Appendix B). The

interview questions were designed using best practices in qualitative research inquiry (e.g., the

wording is clear and understandable and asking a single question rather than incorporating two or

three Creswell, 2015). Interview protocols for the clarifying follow-up interview followed the

same procedures as the initial interview however, included reference to data collected in the

initial interview as needed for purposes of additional probing or confirming the accuracy of data

collected in the initial interview (Guest, Namey, & Mitchell, 2012).

Unstructured, open-ended questions. One goal of qualitative research is to obtain

detailed descriptions of the study participants exact feelings - physical or mental - which emerge

in specific leadership situations or incidents (Van Manen, 2015). In doing so, I was able to

produce a rich description of the study participants lived leadership experiences. Also, I was
54

able to set the tone of the interview by asking an initial question in a thoughtful tone of voice that

wasinstinctive and conversational in nature. As a result, a study participant is likely to engage in

the interview without predetermined replies (Vandermause & Fleming 2011). Open-ended

questions, such as How do you define emotional intelligence?, were utilized along with

inductive probing. Inductive probing, which allowed me to ask questions based on the responses

of the interviewee, has been described by Guest, Namey, and Mitchell (2012) as the single most

defining characteristic of in-depth interviewing (p. 114).

Active listening. During the data collection phase of this study, I identified closely with

the study participants. Shared experiences between a researcher and study participants are

favorable characteristics in the research relationship. Although this close relationship may have

tempted me to share my leadership experiences, I was an active listener rather than talking

needlessly. Active listening involves attending to a participant's responses and identifying

additional data that canbe gleaned by posing probing questions. I was mindful of the flow of the

interview at all times and included the use of body language as a non-verbal means to build

rapport with my study participants (Smith, 2012; Vandermause, & Fleming 2011). In addition, I

used intentional silences, as needed, allowing a participant to gather her thoughts (Van Manen,

2015).

Setting. In-depth, one-on-one interviews were conducted in a private environmentsuch as

an office or conference room of the participants choice, allowing each participant to feel
55

comfortable, and therefore focused, on the interview. This setting maximized my ability to gain

rapport and ensure confidentiality, as well as to convey empathy for the study participant.

I obtained expressed written permission from each study participant to digitally

record, as well as to professionally transcribe, their interviews. All personally identifying

information was removed from the data before transcription as a means of protecting the

participants confidentiality.

Data Analysis

Finlay (2012) identifies the data analysis stage as being the most significant element of

phenomenological research. The data analysis stage required me to be keenly focused on what

the participant described during the semi-structured interviews. Maintaining focus was

necessary in order to properly interpret the meaning of the perceived role of emotional

intelligence on the leadership effectiveness of executive-level women community college

leaders.

Coding. This study integrated the process of coding to capture the essence of women

executive-level community college administrators lived experiences. I assigned a code in the form

of a word or phrase to each data point, ultimately resulting in the identification of any patterns,

categories, or themes that emerged. The initial coding of data relied on in vivo coding which is

appropriate for beginning researchers in which coding activities are intended to be completed

manually (Bowen, 2008; Saldaa, 2012).


56

In this phase, I initially horizontalized the data so that each code had equal importance.

Next, words or phrases that were not relevant to the study were eliminated, resulting in

remaining words or phrases, known as horizons, that began to offer the contextual meaning of

the participants experiences to me. The horizons that did emerge were used in the next phase

of data investigation - thematic analysis (Moustakas, 1994).

Thematic analysis. Unlike a code which is simply a word or phrase, a theme is a longer

phrase or sentence that categorizes meaning for accumulated data. Themes can take the form of

describing a behavior, explaining a phenomenon, or identifying the moral to a story (Saldaa,

2012). A thematic analysis approach allows me to interpret the meaning effectively that emotional

intelligence has on the leadership decisions of the study participants (DeSantis & Ugarriza, 2000).

Thematic analysis supports data integrity by positioning me to interpret a vast amount of

information in a systematic manner resulting in greater accuracy, understanding, and interpretation

(Boyatzis, 1998). Study findings include specific themes or categories along with an elucidation of

theory construction. (Bowen, 2008).

Markers of quality. A good qualitative research investigation must contain specific

markers of quality (p. 837). The investigation must be deemed worthy of empirical inquiry,

project rigor, have integrity resonate with the audience, contain theoretical significance, as well as

deliver a cohesive research methodology (Tracy, 2010). In this section, I explain how this study met

the markers of quality that are necessary for relevant qualitative research, as well as provide a

description of the data collection and data analysis protocols.


57

Empirical value. Typically, a topic that is worthy of empirical research develops from

discipline-specific interests or emerges from timely social events. This study meets both of these

criteria (Tracy, 2010). Higher education institutions struggle to find competent and effective

leaders who can advance into key administrative positions Madsen (2012). Moreover, the

community college sector of higher education is faced with growing demands and fewer

resources resulting in unprecedented leadership challenges (Oliver & Hioco, 2012). Madsen

(2012) proposes that a shortage of qualified leaders may be associated, in some ways, with fewer

women in higher education being equipped to advance into vital leadership positions. This study

offers a timely and relevant investigation into these developing topics.

Rigor. In this study, I demonstrated rigor by ensuring that diligence occurred in all stages

of data collection and analysis (Tracy, 2010, p.841). Specifically, I confirmed that a sufficient

amount of data was obtainedto support significant claims (p. 841), and I invested plenty of

time and effort to gather the needed information. Van Manen (2015) cautions against acquiring

material that is insurmountable or deficient in depth and advises obtaining rich data by becoming

oriented with the research question in a manner that allows me to maintain focus on the interview

without getting off topic. Another way to demonstrate rigor in a qualitative research study is to

provide a detailed description of the data collection and data analysis procedures, thus assuring

that the data are reflective of participants views (Mutepa, 2016).

Credibility. Credibility in a qualitative research study assures that I accurately present the

opinions of the study participants. Credibility was generated and attained in this study through
58

persistent engagement with study participants, a thorough review of captured data, and peer

debriefing (Mutepa, 2016). Peer debriefing pairs me with an objective peer reviewer whose

purpose is to explore various components of the study to identify potentially subjective views

inherent from my perspective (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Peer debriefers serve as third-party

observers who persistently assess the accuracy of the findings (Mutepa, 2016). The Chair of the

Dissertation Committee serves as a peer debriefer. In addition to peer debriefing, I incorporated a

self-reflexive approach in order to maintain quality and credibility (Clancy, 2013). Reflexivity in

qualitative research is comparable to self-appraisal (Pillow, 2003).

Resonance. A study that can meaningfully reverberate and affect an audience

establishes resonance (Tracy, 2010, p. 844). In this study, the target audience comprised other

women leaders. However, Smith (2010) proposes that resonance can occur between the

researcher and the study participants. For example, in the process of data collection, I

encountered greatly admired women leaders that I otherwise would not meet. Through the data

collection process, I gleaned interpretations of other womens experiences, thus allowing me to

view my stance from a fresh perspective. This study did establish resonance for women leaders

by generating a meaningful understanding of their leadership experiences (Smith, 2012).

Contribution. This study offers an opportunity to make a significant contribution to

womens leadership development as it expands the existing leadership knowledge base, improves

as well as expands current leadership practices, supports the generation of ongoing leadership

research, and empowers current women leaders (Tracy, 2010). Women who are inclined to
59

develop their leadership skills ought to include a variety of competencies in their repertoire. By

doing so, women are empowered to advance into leadership positions knowing that they have the

requisite leadership skills to lead an organization effectively (Madsen, 2010). The intention of

this study is to discover the meaning that women community college leaders ascribe to emotional

intelligence and its influence on their leadership effectiveness. In doing so, this study provides a

voice to women leaders by using the subjects' leadership experiences to inform the leadership

development of other women (Van Manen, 2015).


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CHAPTER 4

Research Findings

To reiterate, the purpose of the current study is to explore how women leaders in the

community college sector of higher education perceived the role of emotional intelligence in

their leadership effectiveness by examining the following research question: How do women

community college leaders perceive the role of emotional intelligence on their executive-level

leadership experiences? As outlined in Chapter 3, by applying a phenomenological research

approach, I strived to attain a richer understanding of this phenomenon through a process of

inquiry in the context of the experience (Hein & Austin, 2001). I accomplished this by serving as

the research instrument (Patton, 2015) by means of a dialogue between myself and the study

participants (Van Manen, 1990).

In order to minimize the possibility of researcher bias, I approached the study from a self-

reflexive manner (Patton, 2015). Specifically, I maintained a written log of my interview

dialogue that I revisited multiple times and cross-referenced against coded transcripts and audio

files that I also maintained (Berger, 2015). This process occurred over a 4-month period from

February 2017 through June 2017.

After interview transcripts were generated, and before I acknowledged emerging themes,

my data analysis went through several stages. The first stage involved the use of in vivo coding

by assigning codes in the form of words or phrases to each data point (Saldaa, 2012).

Eventually, this resulted in identifying patterns, categories, and themes that developed. All of my
61

coding activities were completed manually (Bowen, 2008; Saldaa, 2012). However, to cross-

reference my findings, I conducted a Nvivo analysis of the interview transcripts and was able to

corroborate that the codes I had been applying were relevant as they surfaced in the Nvivo

reports, as well.

In the second phase of data analysis, as a means of horizontalizing the data and to ensure

validity, I examined the extent to which each study participant experienced the same

phenomenon and compiled horizons that would inform the final stage of analysis. The horizons,

or themes, that were identified all had been experienced by at least two-thirds of the study

participants. The themes that were not experienced by a majority of the participants were

eliminated, allowing me to streamline my results as I entered the third and final stage of data

analysis thematic analysis (Moustakas, 1994).

The third stage of thematic data analysis positioned me to interpret a vast amount of

information in a systematic manner (Boyatzis, 1998) resulting in the accuracy, understanding,

and interpretation of the meaning that emotional intelligence has made on the leadership

effectiveness of my study participants (DeSantis & Ugarriza, 2000).

Participant Demographics

This investigation comprised interviews with seven executive-level women community

college leaders from one community college in New York and two community colleges in

Pennsylvania. All but one of the seven women held doctoral-level degrees and five of the seven

women held Cabinet-level positions at their respective institutions. Two of the seven women
62

were African-American, and all participants were over the age of 40. In order to maintain

anonymity of each study participant, I assigned the following pseudonyms: Emma, Olivia,

Sophia, Ava, Isabella, Mia, and Abigail.

Themes

As a result of exploring the impact of emotional intelligence on the leadership

effectiveness of executive-level women community college leaders, several themes emerged

across the experiences of the women who were interviewed. The themes that emerged in this

investigation characterized the sentiments of at least two-thirds of the study participants and

described specific examples of how each participant applies emotional intelligence in the

workplace to be an effective leader. The study findings are grouped according to these themes

and are referenced in Table 1.A total of three major themes emerged and include: considering

the big picture, obtaining constructive feedback, and increasing perceptivity which includes

the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding consequences, and responding

appropriately. Prototypical examples of each theme will be included throughout this chapter.

Considering the Big Picture

The major theme of considering the big picture relates to the concept of emotional

intelligence associated with appraising relevant data before forming an opinion or coming to a

conclusion which requires a keen sense of awareness (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing,

& Peterson, 2008) or knowing how the activities that transpire in a single department or

stakeholder group in the organization will impact the entire institution. Six of the seven study
63

participants reported that they were more effective as leaders when looking at a situation within

the context of the organization, rather than only from the limited context of their single

department.

Olivia is a member of the Presidents Cabinet who works in a senior-level position in

academic affairs at her institution. Olivia indicated that her journey to become an executive-level

leader afforded her the opportunity to work in various roles within the higher education sector.

This experience positioned her to be a part of key stakeholder groups with sometimes competing

agendas that included faculty and administration. Having worked in these various roles, Olivia

was able to gain an understanding of the viewpoint of each stakeholder group allowing her to

develop an understanding of the big picture of the organization. Additionally, this allowed

Olivia to see the overall strategy in conflict negotiation also contributing to her belief that

understanding the broad context contributed to her success.

Sophia is a member of the Presidents Cabinet and works at the Vice-Presidential level of

her organization. Sophia is the oldest study participant. Sophia had a similar journey in that she,

too, had worked in various stakeholder groups during her journey to executive-level leadership,

allowing her to come to the realization that what she says and does impacts other people

outside of her immediate area. Olivia also found that in addition to her understanding the

organizational context, by helping others to see the situation from her perspective and viewing

the organization as a whole, she was more effective as a leader.


64

Ava is the youngest study participant; she serves on the Presidents Cabinet and holds a

senior-level leadership position in academic affairs within her organization. Ava suggested that

patience and discernment of available information in the broad context of the organization

was effective for her. She also had worked in multiple stakeholder groups during her journey to

executive-level leadership. However, Ava found that because her department had organizational

impact, being able to discern how her decisions would impact the broader organization helped

her to effectively navigate her role. For example, Avas work crossed a variety of departments

including Technology, Academic Affairs, Marketing, and the College Foundation. Since she was

working closely with these various areas, she understood the individual needs of each unit rather

than the limited aspects of only her own unit. Knowing how the actions or needs of her own unit

impacted each area allowed Ava to consider her decisions at an organizational level.

Isabella is one of two study participants who are African-American. In her institution, she

serves on the Presidents Cabinet and holds a Vice Presidential leadership role outside of

academic affairs. Although Isabella had not worked in more than one department or stakeholder

group, she stated that being able to know where others were coming from even when she didnt

have the same experiences was a key to her success. The skill of understanding where others

may be coming from by putting oneself in anothers shoes allows for organizational evaluation to

occur from the resulting perspectives that arise.

Mia holds a Dean-level position in Academic Affairs within her organization. Mia

summed up her experiences in this regard by stating its not always as straight forward as it
65

seems and that one needs to look at a situation from every single angle. Mia also mentioned

that one of the areas of leadership growth that was a key to her success was her being able to be

hold more understanding of others experiences or viewpoints within the organization as a

system. Specifically, she indicated that being able to look at a situation and understand the

people, their position, and the overall impact on the organization was a turning point in her

leadership success.

The theme of considering the big picture connects to the emotional intelligence concept

of utilizing abstract thinking. Abstract thinking involves identifying parallels amongst unrelated

matters, such as different departments or competing perspectives within an organization as well

as having the capacity to evaluate individual components and to recognize their likeness

individually and collectively on the organization as a whole (Mayer, et al., 2001). Thus, applying

emotional intelligence through identifying, contemplating, and leveraging emotional information

regarding the organization (Boyatzis, 2009), the study participants reported optimal performance

leading to more effective leadership. Moreover, understanding the inner structure of community

college organizations is an essential component of supporting the college in achieving

institutional goals according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

Obtaining Constructive Feedback

The theme of obtaining constructive feedback relates to the trait model of emotional

intelligence which explores ones own resilience when faced with a difficult situation rather than

assessing competencies, behaviors, or abilities in managing daily interactions with others


66

(Matthews, et al., 2015). In many cases, participants in this study reported obtaining feedback

from trusted sources to assess whether a response to a particular situation was appropriate and to

inform whether the chosen response was emotionally intelligent. The commonality of knowing

that feedback was necessary and could help to improve leadership effectiveness was apparent.

The women did differ in terms of from whom they sought feedback, however. Some women

sought feedback from supervisors whereas others reported seeking input from peers or even from

direct reports.

For example, Sophia shared that she speaks with trusted colleagues in a private office or

over the phone and that having a constructive dialogue is very helpful. She mentioned that she

seeks feedback about what she could do better in the future or could have done differently in a

particular meeting or gathering. Sophia indicated that she spends a lot of time looking at what

worked and what didn't work feedback and that this exercise is more important than the hurt

feelings that are going to come out of talking through expectations of feedback.

Isabella revealed that she has made her share of mistakes and that having people call

her on her stuff has been useful to the development of her leadership effectiveness. She

indicated that she empowers her mentees to call her on her crap. This means that as a leader,

you need to empower those around you to provide you with constructive feedback at times when

you might not seek it yourself. Isabella described a situation in which she was given feedback

from the college president because he trusted me enough to give me the feedback. Therefore,
67

her receptiveness to receiving feedback made the President comfortable with providing the

information to her.

Olivia reported that she seeks objective input or mentoring from her supervisor. Mia

also actively seeks advice and guidance from people who she considers better at leadership than

she is so that she is able to learn from them. However, unlike Olivia, Mia may not seek this

information solely from a supervisor; rather, Mia also seeks input from peer colleagues. Abigail

also seeks feedback, although she tries to build coalitions in relationships so that she can call

upon other people to get their input on stuff.

Goleman (1995) suggested that by recognizing emotions in ourselves and others (p.2)

that this behavior may enhance leadership performance. Thus, the study participants' seeking

feedback from others in order to adjust future responses resulted in their perceived improved

leadership performance since they could then respond to future leadership situations in more

emotionally intelligent ways. Or, in situations in which a study participant made a mistake in her

reactions, she could avoid making the same mistake again in the future should a similar situation

arise after having considered the constructive feedback from her prior reaction.

Increasing Perceptivity

The theme of increasing perceptivity relates to the aspect of awareness referenced in the

integrated approach to emotional intelligence, which suggests that having an awareness of the

impacts of ones emotional responses in a social situation or interpersonal exchange results in

emotionally intelligent leadership (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008).
68

The theme of increasing perceptivity includes the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken cues,

understanding the consequences of ones actions, and responding appropriately. A strong sense

of increasing perceptivity or awareness positively impacts a leaders success as it appears to

result in effective communication, increased productivity, and being positively perceived by

colleagues, peers, and other constituents. First, I will explain the sub-theme of distinguishing

unspoken cues.

Distinguishing unspoken cues. The sub-theme of distinguishing unspoken cues relates to

possessing a strong aptitude in reading unspoken cues and being able to identify when a mistake has

occurred is found in the ability model of emotional intelligence. The ability model incorporates the

capacity to notice the feelings and emotions of oneself and others in order to guide ones own

thoughts and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). The sub-theme of distinguishing unspoken cues

aligns with the key facet of emotional intelligence of being able to decipher unspoken cues. For

instance, Emma shared that she is sensitive to cues of others and reported that being able to hear

beyond words was an approach that has contributed to her effectiveness as a leader. The sub-theme

of distinguishing unspoken cues further incorporates interpersonal aptitude and requires a person to

communicate effectively by using words, physical expressions, or signals. Interpersonal aptitude

equates to the emotional intelligence concept of labeling where emotions are interpreted, or

appraised, through verbal and non-verbal communication via gestures. These gestures are referred

to as signals and are appraised to determine the intent of the cue. Thus, by shifting ones voice or
69

changing ones body language, an emotional meaning is assigned to the signal (Castro, Cheng,

Halberstadt, & Grhn, 2015; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

In this regard, Olivia reported that she knows when to speak and when not to and she

knows when to share what information and with whom. Similarly, Ava learned that her

reading between lines has resulted in her being more effective as a leader. For example, when

in a meeting, Ava would study the reactions and body language of those in attendance to better

understand the "vibe" in the room and to assess how the message was being received. In doing

so, Ava would be able to follow up with colleagues directly to discuss her observations in more

detail.

Similarly, Mias ability to know which battles to fight along with knowing that

boundary line of when to push and when not to push comes from her ability to distinguish

unspoken cues. For Mia, distinguishing unspoken cues is knowing in any given situation when to

say Okay, we're not going to push on this, but we're going to hold back a little bit because

strategically thinking I need this relationship with this person to stay positive, so I am not going

to push at this point. Conversely, Mia credits knowing when to push favorably impacts her

leadership success as she admits to not always being able to act in an emotionally manner, and

learning to do so has helped her to handle these situations so that she can help shape the

interaction into a positive conversation.

Understanding consequences. Salovey and Mayer (1990) suggest that a leaders success is

dependent upon her ability to adapt to the demands of a given leadership situation which relates to
70

the theme of understanding the consequences of one's actions in a given leadership situation. Five

of the seven study participants reported that being mindful of their actions and considering the

consequences of their actions helped them to be more effective leaders.

Emma reflected on how she was grateful that she didn't fire off an email in instances in

which she may have lost her cool. She also indicated that because she does not tend to be a

rager, she is mostly soft-spoken and that people listen more than if she chooses to exhibit

an emotion or strong expression. Emma also shared that at times it is more effective for her to

speak up because others will "listen up and say 'Oh, she means business'. Understanding the

consequences of her actions helps Emma know whether to respond firmly or not. She has learned

that she has to counteract responses that may have adverse consequences because otherwise

she feels that she is just feeding into the unproductive behavior of her colleagues.

Ava expressed the need to make sure that what she is saying is what she wants to own,"

and what she "really intends to say a week from now, a month from now because once she has

conveyed her thoughts, both the words and actions are out there and are irrevocable. Like

Emma, Ava indicated that in instances in which she becomes more forceful, her actions are the

result of a conscious decision on her part to communicate in a forceful manner and not the

result of her getting upset and not being able to control her tongue.

Similarly, Isabella shared that she needs to think before she talks because she has a lot to

lose. She also mentioned that she needs to check herself, telling herself that she will lose

everything and that she needs to grow up or slow her roll before speaking. She, too, makes a
71

conscious decision to temper her reactions knowing that she has to live with the consequences of

her words and actions. Isabella also communicated that in professional settings when she is

caught off guard that rather than reacting in anger, she will say to herself, you are going to be

the villain if you react in an elevated manner." By Isabellas not wanting to be viewed as the

villain in the situation - even when she may be in the right - prevents her from over-reacting.

Mia has also learned to establish a default response in instances that might cause her to

over-react and involve her shutting down and just stopping. Mias impulse to stop herself are

because she is aware that the ramifications of over-reacting at the executive-level cannot be

undone and may have significant consequences in higher-level roles. These instances apply to

written correspondence in addition to spoken communication. Mia expressed that one e-mail

can undo you if it's inappropriate and that she is very careful about any kind of written

communication. She also indicated that she is measured even in spoken communication.

Mias approach is that it is better to understate something than it is to overstate it in order to

avoid unintended consequences.

Abigail is one of two Africa-American women who participated in the study. She holds a

senior leadership position outside of academic affairs. Abigail conveyed that although she is

aware of the consequences of her actions and words, she still gets paralyzed when she is upset

about something and she actually doesnt know how to react in a negative situation or when

faced with a difficult situation. Abigail acknowledged that emotional intelligence assists her
72

with rational decision-making. Thus, her composed behavior results in her exhibiting more stable

behaviors (Caruso & Salovey, 2004).

The sub-theme of understanding the consequences of ones actions is associated with

emotionally intelligent leadership in several ways. First, study participants reproted that by

recognizing their own emotions and feelings before responding in a sensitive situation, they were

able to consider the ramifications of the various responses to the situation and to make an

conscious decision as to how to approach the matter. Second, by leveraging emotional

intelligence in order to support ones thoughts and actions, study participants recognize how

emotions impact one's actions and those of others as well as regulate one's emotional responses

as a result of understanding the consequences of ones actions (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995,

1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Study

participants reported that these actions contributed to their successful leadership by serving as a

means to check themsleves before acting. Abigail shared that at times when she has showed her

negative emotions, it effects her team and the entire environment of the office. Thus, she makes a

conscious effort to respond favorably so as to maintain the positive atmosphere of the work

environment.

Responding appropriately. The sub-theme of responding appropriately relates to the

regulation of emotional responses in oneself or others and the ability to adapt ones emotional

response to achieve a desired outcome referenced in the integrated approach to emotional

intelligence model is explained next.


73

Regulation of ones emotional responses involves the recognition of ones emotional state

and the understanding of ones reactions in various settings (Castro, et al., 2015). The theme of

responding appropriately involved the study participants' regulating their responses when

unexpected circumstances would arise, or expected but uncomfortable situations presented, and

being able to recognize the need to regulate their response. Six of the seven women reported that

they were more effective leaders once they learned to regulate their reactions in these kinds of

sensitive situations. Specifically, the women indicated that they learned to not respond at all, to

wait to respond, or to establish a default response.

Olivia learned to not respond at all or to respond later when she finds herself in a

situation when something has caught her off guard. She takes the time that she needs to

process and indicated that there are instances when she responds later outside of the

situation. Olivia tries not to react instantly and feels that it is better when she takes in the

situation and observes. Olivia is conscious of staying calm and relies on self-reflection and

self-monitoring and has learned to "step away" if these approaches are not effective for her.

Sophia uses some of the same approaches as Olivia in that she reflects, makes a point of

stopping herself, and not answering a prompt until such time that she has had an opportunity to

reframe the situation. In addition, Sophia processes endlessly. She has developed the

confidence to say that she can give you her answer right away." but to give "an answer she feels

better about", she needs "to think about it more. With regard to the unexpected, she will

process the matter from every possible angle. One method of navigating the unexpected
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situation is that she jokes more through sarcasm because she knows that by getting upset it

will not do anything good for us or our students.

For Isabella, regulating her response is straightforward; she has to simply think before

she speaks. Similarly, a key to Avas success is her ability to check herself through active-

listening. So even if she knows the answer to a situation, her ability to regulate herself to listen

even when she knows the answer - rather than to jump to a conclusion - has helped her

leadership success. She talked about a time when she let a faculty member express his opposing

views and through her active listening and allowing him to vent, she was then able to turn the

conversation around without having to stamp her foot or pound the table because the faculty

member eventually realized that his stance was not the best choice.

Mia acknowledged that although she may really want to say this right now, she cannot

because expressing what she really thinks may not be in the best interest of the unit or the

organization. Mia learned that by reigning her emotions in "she could make better decisions

that are more thoughtful. The end result could be putting off a decision for a time until I have

a chance to really think things through. Her default "is to say nothing, which sometimes

irritates her because afterwards she thinks that she should have said something. However, by

saying less initially she knows that it will allow her the time to think", so that she is able to

establish an appropriate response. Coming to the realization that learning to not destroy

relationships" just because she "might be frustrated at the moment has been a key to Mias
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leadership effectiveness. She reports that having self-discipline and just saying, 'okay, calm

down' or 'walk away, go home early if you have to, work at home' has helped."

Mia acknowledged that although it may be emotionally satisfying right now to tell this

person exactly what I am thinking, taking a step back and developing a strategy that considers

the ramifications of her decision to express herself at that moment and the "associated

consequences of her decision gives her the control that she needs to be an effective leader

because she is able to be more strategic when things get emotionally charged.

Abigail also opts to wait and strategize about how to respond. She does this so that

people won't notice. She realizes that although she might not like something at the moment,

the next time this is how it's going to go.

The findings of the sub-theme of responding appropriately relate to the emotionally

intelligent practice of leaders using emotional expressions (Schneider, Gardner, Hinojosa, &

Marin, 2014, p. 413) to communicate with and to influence others. Thus, the women recognized

that they would be perceived positively by exhibiting favorable emotions, as opposed to

diminishing their professional persona by displaying negative emotional responses. Moreover,

adjusting reactions relates to the emotionally intelligent practice of identity stability

(Schneider, et al., 2014, p. 428), which results in ones ability to sustain a leadership role through

the display of positive emotions.

Summary of Research Findings


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The themes that emerged during the data analysis stage offered great insight as to how

executive-level women community college leaders who participated in this study perceive the

role of emotional intelligence on their leadership effectiveness. The themes arose by applying the

phenomenological approach to explore the leadership experiences of the research participants

who have served as executive-level community college leaders (Van Manen, 2015). The three

themes that emerged included considering the big picture, obtaining constructive feedback,

and increasing perceptivity, which itself includes the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken

cues, understanding consequences, and responding appropriately.

This investigation provided female-centric insights from women community college

leaders, validating their perceptions and knowledge. Additionally, exploring these womens

experiences provided an opportunity to generate alternative leadership approaches, as well as

offered an understanding of the leadership challenges women community college leaders

encounter.
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CHAPTER 5

Discussion of Research Findings

This study explored the lived experiences of seven executive-level women community

college leaders. The focus of this investigation was to understand the role of emotional

intelligence on women leadership effectiveness by examining the following research question:

How do women community college leaders perceive the role of emotional intelligence on their

executive-level leadership experiences? By focusing on the perceived role of emotional

intelligence on the leadership effectiveness of executive-level female community colleges

leaders, this study: (1) explores how such women perceive their emotional intelligence skills and

how those skills may contribute to the sustainability of an institution; (2) advances scholarly

understanding of womens distinctive experiences in executive-level leadership roles in

community colleges; (3) offers additional insights related to the perceived value of emotional

intelligence skills to women leaders; and (4) increases the understanding of how women leaders

may employ emotional intelligence skills to lead institutions successfully.

Limited empirical information has been available on women community college leaders

and the role of emotional intelligence on leadership effectiveness. This study offers an initial

understanding of how some executive-level women community college leaders may approach

leadership activities from an emotionally intelligent stance.

This investigation revealed a total of three major themes which included considering the

big-picture, obtaining constructive feedback, and increasing perceptivity. The major theme of
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increasing perceptivity comprises the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding

consequences, and responding appropriately.

The results of this study align with the integrated approach to emotional intelligence, in

which prior emotional intelligence scholars call for an unified approach to be introduced

(Cherniss, 2004). In this chapter, I will explain connections to prior literature, as well as identify

novel findings in the themes that emerged.

Consider the Big Picture

The theme of considering the big picture involved appraising a social situation or

interpersonal exchange resulting in a better cognizance of the effect of ones actions. This theme

was focused on knowing how ones actions, or the activities that transpire in a single department

or stakeholder group within the organization, will impact the entire institution. Six of the seven

study participants reported that when looking at a situation within the context of the

organization, rather than only from the limited context of their single department, that they were

more effective as leaders.

The theme of considering the big picture or entire organizational context relates to the

concept of abstract thinking. Emotional intelligence involves abstract capabilities such as

identifying parallels amongst unrelated matters as well as the capacity to evaluate individual

components and recognize their likeness individually and collectively (Mayer, et al., 2001). For

example, Olivias experience involved her working in various roles within the higher education

sector including faculty and administration. Olivia was able to develop an understanding of each
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stakeholder group allowing her to develop the skill of understanding how things fit into the big

picture of the organization. Furthermore, this allowed Olivia to see the overall strategy in

conflict negotiation which also contributed to her success.

Additionally, abstract thinking requires the processing of ones thoughts (Mayer, et al.,

2001). For example, although Isabella may not have worked in a particular department or

stakeholder group, she stated that being able to process ones thoughts such as being able to

know where others were coming from even when she didnt have the same experiences was a

key to her success. Understanding where others are coming from is especially important in a

community college setting due to the diversity of the students and staff. For example, according

to the American Association of Community Colleges (2016), minorities comprise 25% of all

community college faculty and 50% of all community college students. The skill-set to identify

with diverse populations has been critical to Isabellas rise to a Vice Presidential leadership

position.

Consequently, the literature suggests that emotional intelligence may be measured by

ones actions in varying situations in which different cognitive abilities or behaviors lead to

differing conclusions (Dowe & Hernndez-Orallo, 2013). For example, Sophia worked as a

faculty member and then moved into administration. As a faculty member, she had a limited

perspective that was partial to the faculty role. Then, when she moved into administration, she

realized the other considerations that someone in administration was faced with which positioned

her to respond with varying cognitive abilities or behaviors as she gained experience from
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working in these differing roles. Having the opportunity to consider a set of facts from the

perspective of sometimes competing stakeholder groups allowed Sophia to understand that what

she says and does impacts other people outside of her immediate area. At a time when many

community colleges across the board are experiencing external pressures such as high

presidential turnover and declining enrollments, campuses are internally strained as a result

according to the American Association of Community Colleges (2016). Leaders who can

understand the internal dynamics may be better positioned for success in their respective units.

Another observation by the American Association of Community Colleges (2016) as community

college campuses experience a paradigm shift in content delivery modalities, some

organizational stakeholders may feel threatened or skeptical about change. Thus, having the

ability to understand the big picture may allow leaders in such settings to consider the

concerns of those impacted by change and position them to pre-emptively respond to concerns.

Relatedly, Olivia stated that in addition to her understanding the organizational context,

that by helping others to see the situation from her perspective, that she was more effective as

a leader. While Ava had also worked in multiple stakeholder groups during her journey to

executive-level leadership, she found that because her department had organizational impact, that

being able to discern how her decisions would impact the broad organization helped her to

effectively navigate her role as an executive-level leader.

Having an understanding of the organizational context aligns with the behavioral model

of emotional intelligence theory which focuses on a leaders skills or behaviors. To understand


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the organizational context, a leaders actions may include identifying, contemplating, and

leveraging emotional information regarding oneself or others leading to optimal performance

(Boyatzis, 2009). In this respect, Mia identified that she is able to leverage her emotional

intelligence as a leader and that being an effective leader is not always as straight forward as it

seems and that she contemplates her actions first by looking at a situation from every single

angle. Mia also shared that by considering emotional information that she was able to be more

understanding of others experiences or viewpoints. Applying the emotionally intelligent

behaviors of identifying and contemplating information resulting in optimal performance for her;

specifically, being able to look at a situation and understand the people their position, and the

overall impact to the organization was a turning point towards her leadership success. Moreover,

by evaluating the relevant organizational data before forming an opinion or coming to a

conclusion (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008) she reported an increase

in her leadership effectiveness. Specifically, Mia would not get upset with her colleagues as she

would understand their position even though she may not agree with their view. This is

particularly important for community college leaders since they have a diverse student and

employee population (American Association of Community Colleges, 2016).

Obtaining Constructive Feedback

Study participants revealed that the action of seeking feedback from a trusted source was

an important aspect of their leadership effectiveness resulting in the major theme of obtaining

constructive feedback developing. The purpose of obtaining input from others was to assess their
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effectiveness in a leadership situation in hopes of informing them whether they responded in a

way that was emotionally intelligent and whether there was a different way to approach the

situation in the future. Recent research by the American Association of Community Colleges

(2005) identified six necessary skills that community college leaders must develop to be

effective leaders. These skills include a leaders ability to be strategic, resourceful,

communicative, collaborative, advocative, and professional which are key aspects of obtaining

feedback.

Also, seeking constructive feedback requires a leader to be strong which aligns with the

trait Model of emotional intelligence. The trait model of emotional intelligence explores an

individuals personality traits that support the recognizing, handling, and responding to emotion-

related circumstances (Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts, 2012) and assesses ones resilience when

faced with an awkward situation such as receiving constructive feedback that is honest and or

critical in nature (Matthews, et al., 2015).

After a difficult meeting, Sophia recognized the need to seek feedback about what she

could do better in the future or could have done differently in handling the situation. Sophia

shared that she will speak with trusted colleagues in a private office or over the phone and that

having a constructive dialogue has been very helpful. Her ability to receive constructive

feedback demonstrates Sophias own resilience in facing awkward situations. She also shared

that she spends a lot of time looking at what worked and what didn't work feedback and that
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this reflection is more important than the hurt feelings that are going to come out of talking

through expectations of feedback.

Isabella has made her share of mistakes and having people call her on her stuff has

been beneficial to her leadership effectiveness. She shared that she tells her mentees that by

having someone in their life who can call you on your crap that you have the wrong people

around you. As a leader, you need to allow those around you to deliver you with constructive

feedback at times when you might not seek it yourself. Isabella also described an instance when

she received feedback from the college president because he trusted me enough to give me the

feedback, so her receptivity to the feedback made the person comfortable with provided the

information to her.

Olivia reported that she is resourceful by seeking objective input or mentoring from her

supervisor. Mia is collaborative by actively seeking advice and guidance from people who she

considers better at leadership than she is so that she is able to learn from them. Unlike Olivia,

Mia may not seek this information solely from a supervisor. Abigail also seeks feedback,

although she does so collaboratively as she tries to build coalitions in relationships so that she

can call upon other people to get their input on stuff.

The study participants pursuit of candid feedback demonstrated their resiliency.

Resiliency aligns with the trait model of emotional intelligence which according to Goleman

leads to exceptional performance including leadership effectiveness (Goleman, 1995). By

seeking feedback, study participants were able to obtain helpful knowledge that contributed to
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their leadership success by allowing them to make better leadership choices in the future. The

feedback allowed them to use a different leadership approach when faced with the same

circumstance or tweaking the previous approach.

Increasing Perceptivity

The theme of increasing perceptivity aligns with the aspect of awareness referenced in

the integrated approach to emotional intelligence model which proposes that having an

awareness of the effects of ones emotional reactions in a social situation or interpersonal

exchange leads to emotionally intelligent leadership (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, &

Peterson, 2008). The theme of increasing perceptivity incorporates the sub-themes of

distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding the consequences of ones actions, and responding

appropriately.

Distinguishing unspoken cues. The sub-theme of being able to decipher unspoken cues is a

key facet of emotional intelligence. Prior literature has acknowledged the importance of emotions

which are understood or assessed through labeling. The labeling of emotions necessitates the

interpretation of verbal or non-verbal cues such as a shift in ones voice or body language to

evaluate the intent of the gesture sometimes referred to as a signal (Castro, Cheng, Halberstadt, &

Grhn, 2015; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Similarly, Matthews, et al. (2015) reported that there is no

exact standard for gauging ones ability in emotional perception, therefore, it may require a strong

aptitude in reading unspoken cues indicating a mistake has occurred.


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Mias emotional perception is demonstrated by her knowing which battles to fight

along with knowing that boundary line of when to push and when not to push. Specifically,

someone who knows in any given situation when to say OK we're not going to push on this but

we're going to hold back a little bit because strategically thinking I need this relationship with

this person to stay positive so I am not going to push at this point. But then other times she

reported saying, No, I'm going to push you know knowing when and how to do that and that

this approach has favorably impacted her leadership success. In a community college setting this

approach is important because of the volume of leaders who are promoted from within (Eddy,

2013). Thus, by maintaining positive relationships, it helps a leader to not burn any bridges since

someone who is a peer can be appointed into a supervisory position changing the relationship

dynamics.

Mayer and Salovey (1990) suggested that emotional intelligence comprised an ability to

evaluate the feelings and emotions of oneself and others. They also suggested that emotional

intelligence included an ability to distinguish among the feelings and emotions of others to guide

ones own thoughts and actions. For example, Emma share that she is sensitive to cues of

others and described that her being able to hear beyond words was a skill that has contributed

to her effectiveness as a leader. Sophia shared that her negative reactions had an adverse impact

on her leadership effectiveness as she knew the second that she acted in negatively by reading

the unspoken cues of those in her presence.


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Salovey and Mayers original definition of emotional intelligence was expanded in 1997

to include the four-branch model of emotional intelligence. The original definition neglected to

consider ones feelings and instead focused only on ones ability to evaluate feelings and

emotions or to distinguish amongst the feelings and emotions of others to guide ones thoughts

and actions. This new four-branch model of emotional intelligence includes a leaders capacity to

correctly recognize, evaluate, understand, and express emotion and emotional knowledge to

encourage emotional and intellectual development. For instance, Olivia knows when to speak

and when not to and that she knows when to share what information and with whom. Similar

to Olivia, Ava shared that reading between lines allows her to be more effective as a leader.

Thus, the theme of distinguishing unspoken cues relates to the emotionally intelligent actions of

knowing, assessing, understanding, and communicating emotion and emotional knowledge to

encourage emotional and intellectual development. By including these activities into their

leadership practices, the study participants reported a higher level of leadership effectiveness.

Additionally, being able to distinguish which topics may be off limits with various stakeholders

is described by the American Association of Community Colleges (2013) as an effective

community college leadership practice. Thus, increasing ones perceptivity to distinguish

unspoken cues, is viewed as a must-have skill for community college leaders.

Understanding consequences. The sub-theme of understanding the consequences of ones

actions and the impact on others was presented by five of the seven study participants who stated

that being mindful of their actions and considering the consequences helped them to be more
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effective leaders. This finding is consistent with literature that suggests emotional intelligence

assists with rational decision-making and results in stable behaviors (Caruso & Salovey, 2004).

For example, Isabella shared that to make rational decisions resulting in stable behaviors,

that she needs to think before she talks because she has a lot to lose. Isabella also stated that

she needs to check herself by reminding herself that she will lose everything if she does not

grow up or slow her roll. She indicated that she makes a conscious decision to temper her

reactions knowing that she has to live with the consequences of her actions and words. In

addition, in professional settings when she is caught off guard, Isabella also communicated that

that rather than reacting in anger she will say to herself you are going to be the villain if you

react in an elevated manner. Therefore, her not wanting to be viewed as the villain in the

situation, even when she feels she is correct, prevents her from over-reacting. Also, she is able to

be more a more effective leader because she prevents others from becoming elevated.

Understanding the consequences of ones actions is consistent with the literature which

suggests that an emotionally intelligent leader has a strong ability to distinguish emotions clearly

in oneself and others; to leverage emotion in order to support ones feelings and activities, to

know how emotions impact one's actions and those of others, as well as to regulate one's

emotional responses (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997;

McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990). For example, Mia is able to distinguish,

leverage, and regulate her emotions by establishing a default response that she uses in

instances which may cause her to over react resulting in her shutting down and just stopping.
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This default response helps her to be an effective leader because she is aware of the

ramifications of over-reacting at the executive-level which cannot be undone in this higher-level

leadership role.

Moreover, Mias default response also applies to written correspondence in addition to

spoken communication. Mia expressed that one e-mail can undo you if it's inappropriate and

that she is very careful about any kind of written communication. She also indicated that she is

measured even in spoken communication. Mias approach is that it is better to understate

something than it is to overstate to avoid unintended consequences. On the other hand, Abigail

conveyed that although she is aware of the consequences of her actions and words, that she still

gets paralyzed when she is upset about something and that she actually doesnt know how to

react in a negative situation or when faced with a difficult situation.

Understanding the consequences of ones actions relates to Golemans (1998) findings

that emotional intelligence traits include self-management as a means to manage others. Self-

management skills include having a sense of self-awareness or self-regulation. This studys

findings show that women leaders are able to understand the consequences of their actions and

through self-awareness or self-regulation are able to regulate their responses in order to

successfully navigate a situation that poses a leadership challenge. Acquiring an understanding

of the particulars of communicating with internal and external stakeholders is a key to successful

community college leadership (American Association of Community Colleges, 2013).


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Emma shared that her self-regulation helped her and that she was grateful for instances

when she may have become frustrated or upset but she did not respond in an elevated tone.

Emmas also reported that her self-awareness has contributed to her leadership effectiveness

because she does not tend to be a someone who is a rager and is viewed as being mellow.

Emma is in charge of her emotions. She has noticed that if she chooses to exhibit an emotion or

strong expression that people listen more. She has also noticed that it is more effective for her

to be firm at times as people will think that she means business. So, by understanding the

consequences of her actions helps Emma know when to respond firmly or not.

Ava applies self-awareness and regulation by making sure that what she is saying is

what she wants to own and what she really intends to say a week from now a month from now

as once she has shared her views, both the words and actions are out there and are irreversible.

Like Emma, Ava indicated that in instances when she becomes more forceful that her actions

are the result of a conscious decision on her part to communicate in a forceful manner and not

the result of her getting upset and not being able to control her tongue. Emma concluded that

her being able to deliver difficult messages was a key to her success in managing stakeholder

relationships.

The behaviors reported by these participants align with Golemans model (1998) which

summarized emotional intelligence traits into two broad categories: self-management and the

ability to manage others. Thus, through self-awareness and self-regulation, the study participants

were able to apply empathy and social skills to manage relationships with others in an
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emotionally intelligent manner. In doing so, this contributed to the participants success with

developing relationships and building coalitions with others. These bonds proved to helpful to

the women by allowing them to develop a network of supporters.

Responding appropriately. The sub-theme of responding appropriately involves the

regulation of emotional responses in oneself or others; and the ability to adapt ones emotional

response to achieve a desired outcome suggested in the integrated approach to emotional

intelligence model.

Six of the seven women reported that they were more effective leaders once they learned

to regulate their reactions in sensitive situations. This study supports previous literature that

describes the regulating of responses as integral to emotional intelligence. In particular, study

findings revealed that emotion(s) play an important role in leadership success and that leaders

rely on emotional expressions (Schneider, Gardner, Hinojosa, & Marin, 2014, p. 413) to

communicate with and influence others. Sophias emotional expression is that she jokes more

through sarcasm because she knows that by getting upset it will not do anything good for us or

our students.

Moreover, the literature suggests setting the emotional tone through the identification of

cues or signals that establish which signs are relevant or not and are of certain relevance in

circumstances when ambiguous expressions are displayed (Barrett, Mesquita, & Gendron, 2011).

Similarly, Goleman suggested that exceptional leadership performance occurs when ones

ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others is achieved (Goleman, 1995,
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p.2). Avas success was her ability to set the emotional tone by checking herself through

active-listening. Thus, even if she sees the answer in a situation, her ability to regulate herself

to listen even when she knows answer rather than jumping to a decision has helped her

leadership success. For Ava, people responded to her approach and as a result, she was able to

advance into higher-level leadership roles.

This study revealed that a leader who exhibits favorable emotions is perceived positively

by various stakeholders. Conversely, a leader who displays conflicting emotions diminishes her

professional persona. Moreover, effective leadership requires identity stability (Schneider, et

al., 2014, p. 428) to sustain a leadership role. Thus, by displaying and experiencing positive

emotions, a leader is likely to portray a professional identity resulting in her leadership

effectiveness (Schneider, et al., 2014). Isabella shared that she maintains her identity stability by

regulating her response through thinking before she speaks since she will consider her

response and weigh the ramifications of an emotional reply before speaking.

McClelland (1973) originally proposed the clinical concept of response delay (p. 10)

also known as tolerance, as an essential component in setting the emotional tone of an

interaction. This concept aligns with the study recipients reporting that once they learned to

apply response delay in their leadership activities, that they were more effective leaders.

Specifically, when dealing with sensitive situations, they reported that they learned to not

respond at all, to wait to respond, or to establish a default response resulting in increased


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leadership effectiveness. Olivia learned to set the emotional tone by not responding at all or to

respond later when she something has caught her off guard.

Previous literature has also identified the importance of relational proficiency in which

interpersonal aptitude is achieved through the use of carefully selected words, physical

expressions, or signals. Combining relational proficiency with a response that considers

unspoken cues and responding in a manner that sets the emotional tone will lead to desired

outcomes (McClelland, 1973). Sophias interpersonal aptitude presented in her ability to reflect,

and she makes a point of stopping herself, and not answering a prompt until she has reframed

the situation. In addition, Sophia developed the carefully selected words that results in her saying

that she can give you her answer right away but to give you an answer [she] feels better about,

that [she] needs to think about it more. This approach helped Sophia rise from a faculty

member to a senior-most leadership position in her institution. In this way, she was viewed

positively, respected, and valued as a leader. This approach has helped Sophia to manage

competing stakeholder groups such as faculty, staff, and administrators while maintaining a

positive relationship with each since she became known as fair and impartial.

Emotional Intelligence in Practice

By studying the experiences of executive-level women community college leaders, I have

gained a deeper understanding of the strategies that these women apply, as well as the ways in

which emotional intelligence serves to advance womens leadership skills in the community

college sector of higher education. This study revealed emotional intelligence in practice through
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the themes of considering the big picture, obtaining constructive feedback, and increasing

perceptivity which includes the sub-themes of distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding

consequences, and responding appropriately.

This study offers key take-aways that demonstrate how these findings contribute to

leadership success in the community college setting for the study participants in the form of

contextual examples that women community college leaders can immediately apply to their own

leadership activities in order to become more emotionally intelligent leaders. Also, the themes

that were revealed through this investigation align with an integrated approach to emotional

intelligence in several ways.

First, the major theme of considering the big picture relates to the appraisal of a social

situation or interpersonal exchange aspect of the integrated approach to emotional intelligence.

Considering the big picture translates into successful leadership specifically, as prior to

rushing to pass judgement or drawing a conclusion, it was discovered that a leader must obtain

an understanding of where all stakeholder groups are coming from. It is not necessary to agree

with the respective views of each stakeholder group, but to have an appreciation for their

position. Not considering such insights, may result in a leader potentially making a decision that

is not a fully informed choice or in the leader making assumptions about from where a

stakeholder group is coming that may not be accurate.


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Second, the major theme of obtaining constructive feedback equates with the aspect of an

integrated approach to emotional intelligence that suggests the regulation of emotional responses

in oneself or others, and the ability to adapt ones emotional response to achieve a desired

outcome leads to effctive leadership. In adjusting ones reactions to maintain an optimal outcome

in a social or interpersonal exchange, the study particiapants were able to avoid previous

mistakes by using a different leadership approach (Boyatzis, 2009). This investigation revealed

that learning from mistakes is an inherent part of emotional intelligence development in a leader

and translates into successful community college leadership by viewing mistakes as a learning

opportunity and not as a negative occurrence. A leader who obtains the opinion of a trusted

confidant so that she can tweak her strategy in the future learns from her mistakes and becomes a

more effective leader by not making the same mistake twice.

Finally, the major theme of increasing perceptivity which includes the sub-themes of

distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding the consequences of ones actions, and responding

appropriately parallels an integrated approach to emotional intelligence that suggests having an

awareness of ones impact in a social situation or interpersonal exchange leads to effective

leadership (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008). The study participants

revealed that by distinguishing unspoken cues combined with understanding the consequences of

their actions and by responding appropriately, that they avoided looking like the villain and

were able to navigate delicate situations successfully.


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CHAPTER 6

Recommendations

Chapter 6 outlines the significance of this study, explains the study limitations, and

provides suggestions for future research. Importantly, this chapter also offers implications for

practice.

Significance of Study

This study applied an integrated approach to emotional intelligence which comprises the

appraisal of a social situation, or interpersonal exchange, resulting in a greater awareness of the

impact of ones emotional responses in that situation. Also included in the integrated approach

are the regulation of emotional responses in oneself or others as well as the ability to adapt

ones emotional response to achieve a desired outcome (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998;

Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Interestingly, each of these aspects of emotional intelligence align with the themes that

were revealed through the investigation which include considering the big-picture, obtaining

constructive feedback, and increasing perceptivity which includes the sub-themes of

distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding consequences, and responding appropriately. Each

of the themes play an essential role in developing emotionally intelligent women leaders who can

positively impact the sustainability of their organizations. These findings are significant as they

serve to advance emotional intelligence theory, promote organizational sustainability,


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empirically advance the understanding of women leaders, and elucidate the importance of

emotional intelligence.

In particular, this study advances emotional intelligence theory in two ways. First, it puts

emotional intelligence theory into context and it demonstrates the viability of an integrated

approach to emotional intelligence justifying additional research. The findings offer a

circumstantial application of emotional intelligence rather than simply a theoretical explanation

to guide their leadership activities. Through this study, women community college leaders may

have a better understanding of how to apply emotional intelligence theory in actual leadership

scenarios in order to serve an effective leader in the community college sector of higher

education.

Second, through the three major themes and respective sub-themes, support for an

integrated approach to emotional intelligence emerged across the studys findings (Bar-On,

1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; McClelland, 1973; Salovey & Mayer,

1990). As Cherniss (2004) suggested, an integrated approach to emotional intelligence is in fact

viable and necessary. Since each of the themes that emerged during this investigation align with

an aspect of the integrated approach to emotional intelligence, there is enough evidence to justify

additional research in this area.

Moreover, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (2013),

successful leaders help community colleges to achieve favorable student success rates which

contributes to the ultimate sustainability of the institution. This studys findings may also be of
97

particular value to women leaders in the community college sector of higher education by

providing them with practical strategies that promote effective leadership and contribute

positively to the institutions functioning.

Moreover, most leadership research has typically been conducted by male researchers

who have placed male-centric views on their data which does not adequately characterize the

experiences of women leaders (Longman & Madsen, 2014, p. ix). This study advances the

scholarly understanding of womens distinctive experiences in executive-level leadership roles in

community colleges in their own voices and provides suggestions based upon womens own

knowledge and understanding of their leadership roles. Results offer valuable insights related to

the perceived value of emotional intelligence skills of women leaders and how women leaders

view the use of emotionally intelligent behaviors in their leadership effectiveness.

This study is significant in its value to the community college sector of higher education

because now more than ever, the expectations of community college leaders are different from

prior expectations since community colleges are being called to serve more students than ever

before and with decreasing resources (Lumina, 2015; The White House, 2015). Priorities have

shifted to responsibility for improving student achievement in a strategic and timely manner

(American Association of Community Colleges, 2013). This, emotional intelligence may be one

key to effective leadership that may help to promote organizational sustainability in the face of

such challenges.

Limitations and Future Directions for Research


98

Expanding the study to include direct reports of the executive level women leaders would

provide a 360-degree perspective of the leadership effectiveness of women leaders in executive-

level roles as opposed to just relying on the limited view of each study participant and their

perceived effectiveness as a leader. In addition to including direct reports of the leader, it may be

useful to include feedback from peers and other organizational stakeholders who interact with

the leader in such settings regularly.

This study also does not attempt to generalize the findings to all leadership scenarios.

Rather, it reveals the phenomenon in the context of women community college leaders who

participated in this study. Future research could replicate this study with more diverse

participants in other community college settings. Additionally, future research could explore how

women leaders in university president-level roles describe the impact of emotional intelligence

on their leadership effectiveness. This would provide additional insights for executive-level

women leaders who may aspire to presidential roles. Moreover, gaining an understanding of how

executive-level women community college leaders compare to executive-level women leaders in

other sectors of higher education, such as private institutions, would also be useful and offer

understanding into contextual variations.

Finally, further exploration of an integrated approach to emotional intelligence is

necessary. Prior emotional intelligence theory authors have suggested the need for more research

in this area and this study affirms the need for such an integrated approach (Cherniss, 2004).

Implications for Practice


99

This study serves as a beginning point towards advancing the empirical knowledge base

related to promoting leadership effectiveness among women leaders in community college

settings. The major themes along with the corresponding sub-themes identified in this study

provide a framework of emotionally intelligent behaviors that may be helpful in encouraging

effective leadership for women leaders in the community college sector of higher education.

Based upon findings in this study, I propose the following recommendations for community

college institutions and women community college leaders who wish to increase their emotional

intelligence capacity.

The first suggestion relates to the theme of understanding the big-picture and involves

increasing communication and collaboration among individual stakeholder groups or

departments in community college organizations. In doing so, the respective units may develop

an understanding of how the activities that transpire in their area impact the entire institution.

Cultivating inter-departmental communication into the professional development activities of

women community college leaders includes activities such as hosting leadership retreats, lunch

and learn sessions, or monthly book clubs. Staff development activities that include role-playing

as a means to model emotionally intelligent behaviors may also allow for collaboration and

team-building to occur. By applying these activities inter-organizationally, various stakeholders

may develop an understanding of where their unit fits into the context of the organization as a

whole. A broad approach may also be to offer intentional institution-wide workshops on

emotional intelligence.
100

The next suggestion is intended to be implemented on community college campuses

specifically where many women already are known to advance to higher levels of leadership

from within the organization (Eddy, 2013). Aligning with the theme of seeking feedback and

being open to receiving constructive feedback, community college campus leaders could

establish opportunities for women to share and receive constructive feedback with one another in

a safe environment. Examples may include establishing a mentorship program where women can

voluntarily agree to be critiqued by a trusted source who can offer helpful feedback and

suggestions for improvement. Similarly, women leaders should have mechanisms in place to be

able to solicit feedback from other members. A rubric could be created that explains the types of

activities that are to be evaluated along with specific interventions that can be applied or the

offering of supportive discussion groups where women can gather to discuss how to enhance

their skills. Developing community college leaders who are prepared to lead during these

complex times is essential (American Association of Community Colleges, 2013).

Women who aspire to leadership positions, as well as existing women leaders, could also

be encouraged to become familiar with the integrated approach to emotional intelligence and to

apply the principles into their daily leadership activities. Emphasis could be placed on helping

women to respond to sensitive situations by learning to first consider the consequences of their

actions and possible adverse impact to others. For example, teaching such leaders the skills of

responding in an emotionally intelligent manner when an uncomfortable or unexpected situation

arises which may be accomplished by having a series of possible responses such as waiting to
101

respond, not responding at all, or preparing a neutral emotionally intelligent default response that

diffuses the situation.

Supporting women leaders in learning to apply emotionally intelligent responses to

achieve a desired outcome should be integral to the mission, vision, and culture of any

organization that wishes to develop its leadership capacity and to support women leaders. The

process of developing emotionally intelligent women leaders should be on-going and planned

carefully. I suggest creating specific leadership workshops or discussions targeted to each aspect

of the integrated approach to emotional intelligence including cultivating awareness,

adaptability, regulation, and increasing perceptivity. This type of intervention may also lend

itself well to an action research-based study.

These recommendations support the call from the American Association of Community

Colleges to intentionally prepare leaders to develop self-regulation skills (2013). A workshop

that specifically teaches leaders how to become more cognizant of others feelings and to

recognize those emotions appropriately may be useful in this respect. Workshops may require the

development of a specific curriculum which may include the use of interactive teaching methods

such as role-playing activites.

Certainly not exhaustive, but such recommendations provide a starting point for

community colleges to incorporate emotionally intelligent leadership practices into their

organization. Additionally, the recommendations offer a roadmap for women community college
102

leaders to potentially increase their leadership effectiveness by incorporating emotional

intelligence into their daily leadership practice.

Conclusion

This qualitative phenomenological study explored the impact of emotional intelligence on

the leadership effectiveness of executive-level community college women leaders. The

theoretical framework proposed that emotional intelligence contributes to the effectiveness of a

leader. The literature review revealed an integrated approach to emotional intelligence which

combines the commonalities of the existing emotional intelligence theories into one unified

approach which comprises the appraisal of a social situation, or interpersonal exchange, resulting

in a greater awareness of the impact of ones emotional responses in that situation; the regulation

of emotional responses in oneself or others; and the ability to adapt ones emotional response to

achieve a desired outcome (Bar-On, 1988; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997;

McClelland, 1973; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

The ultimate significance of this study is that it serves as a starting point to advance the

understanding of women leaders in the community college sector of higher education, it

elucidates the importance of emotional intelligence to women community college leaders, and

this investigation gives us insights in womens own voices into the executive-level leadership

experiences of women community leaders. This is accomplished by the study findings which

uncovered a total of three major themes which included considering the big-picture, obtaining

constructive feedback, and increasing perceptivity which includes the sub-themes of


103

distinguishing unspoken cues, understanding consequences, and responding appropriately. The

themes provide a contextual framework that women community college leaders can implement

into their daily practice to develop emotionally intelligent leadership skills.


104

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Table 1
Major Themes and Associated Sub-themes
Major Theme Prototypical Example
Considering the big-picture Knowing how the activities that transpire in
a single department or stakeholder group in
the organization will impact the entire
institution.
Obtaining constructive feedback Obtaining feedback from trusted sources to
assess whether a response to a particular
situation was appropriate and to inform
whether the chosen response was
emotionally intelligent.
Increasing Perceptivity Having an awareness of the impacts of ones
emotional responses in a social situation or
interpersonal exchange results in
emotionally intelligent leadership.
Distinguishing unspoken cues Noticing the feelings and emotions of
oneself and others to guide ones own
thoughts and actions.
Understanding consequences Being mindful of ones actions and
considering the penalties of ones behaviors.
Responding appropriately The ability to adapt ones emotional
response to achieve a desired outcome.
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Appendix A: Informed Consent (Semi-structured interviews)

INFORMED CONSENT FORM

THE PERCEIVED ROLE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE ON THE


LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS OF EXECUTIVE-LEVEL WOMEN
COMMUNITY COLLEGE LEADERS

Principal Investigator:
Ayisha Sereni, MBA, Doctoral Candidate
610.328.6100
asereni@eastern.edu

Dissertation Committee Chair:


Tara M. Stoppa, Ph.D.
tstoppa@eastern.edu

Dissertation Committee Members:


David Greenhalgh, Ed.D.
Karen Longman, Ph.D.

Ayisha Sereni is a graduate student pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in the
Organizational Leadership program at Eastern University located in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

This is an invitation to participate in a research study that will examine the experiences and
practices of executive-level women leaders in the community college sector of higher education.
You have been identified as a potential research participant in this study since you have
experience as an executive-level community college leader. For purposes of this study,
executive-level leaders are defined as engaging in the following activities:

The identification and implementation of policies, procedures, and goals of an


organization or a department within the organization. Key executive-level responsibilities
126

include fiscal oversight that involves the analyzing and projecting of financial operations,
the hiring or termination of managerial-level staff, negotiation and approval of legally
binding contracts, and engaging in communications with stakeholders such as other
executives or trustees (IPEDS; 2016).

Please be sure to read this form in its entirety and ask any questions you may have before
agreeing to participate in this study.

Confidentiality:
1. Participation in this study is voluntary and anonymous.
2. Pseudonyms will be utilized in order to maintain anonymity.
3. Only the Principal Investigator will know the identity of the research subjects.
4. Identification of the research subjects will not be possible by the procedures employed or
from the information obtained.
5. In any sort of report that may be published, no identifying information will be disclosed
that would result in the identification of any research subject.

Background:
In order to prepare women to become effective higher education leaders, it is necessary to
convey helpful information on this topic through scholarly articles (Madsen, 2012). By
illuminating the experiences of women higher education leaders, significant strides in leadership
research are made through the broadening of the research base. Presently, the research base is
generated mostly by male researchers and comprised of studies related to male leadership
resulting in a male-normed culture (Longman & Madsen, 2014, p. ix). Moreover, there is a
lack of empirical data related to the experiences and practices of women leaders outside of the
business or commercial sectors (Olsson, 2002). Thus, by exploring the leadership experiences of
executive-level women higher education leaders, vital data can be gleaned offering insight and
implications towards advancing leadership theory and practice (Elliott & Stead, 2008).

Background Information:
The above named Principal Investigator is conducting a dissertation research study. The study is
designed to examine the leadership experiences and practices of senior-level women community
college leaders.

Procedures:
As a participant in the study, you will be asked to:
1. Participate in one to two personal interviews with the Principal Investigator that will
consist of a detailed initial interview and if needed, a clarifying follow-up interview.
Interviews will be conducted between December 2016 and January 2017. The detailed
interview is anticipated to last approximately 90 minutes. The clarifying follow-up
127

interview is likely to range between 45 and 60 minutes.


2. Agree to a digital recording of interviews that will be stored securely and professionally
transcribed.

Risks and Benefits of participating in the Study:


1. There are no risks to research subjects.
2. The current study is important for several reasons. First, while many leadership scholars
study effective leadership, there is limited empirical data on effective higher education
leaders (Bryman & Lilley, 2009). Consequently, there is even less empirical evidence on
effective women higher education leaders. The literature demonstrates that there is much
to be gleaned from exploring this area more closely. Since higher education leaders who
are women play a critical role in the success of a college or university (Bryman & Lilley,
2009), my hope is that this study will offer helpful insights to women leaders and position
them to be more successful and favorably impact student and organizational success.

Compensation:
There is no monetary compensation provided in this study. Refreshments may be supplied.

Voluntary Nature of the Study: Participation in this study is voluntary. Your decision whether
or not to participate will not affect your current or future relations with Eastern University and
will result in no penalty. If you decide to participate, you are free not to answer any question or
withdraw at any time without affecting those relationships and without penalty.

Contacts and Questions:


The researcher conducting this study is Ayisha Sereni. You may ask any questions you have
now. If you have questions later, you are encouraged to contact the researcher at 610.328.6100 or
asereni@eastern.edu Or; you may communicate with the dissertation chair, Dr. Tara Stoppa at
tstoppa@eastern.edu

This project has been approved by Eastern Universitys Institutional Review Board as indicated
by the date in the lower right-hand corner of this document. Do not agree to participate in this
study if the date is older than one year. If you have any concerns about the manner in which this
study is conducted, you may contact the IRB at email irb@eastern.edu. You will be provided
with a signed copy of this information to keep for your records.
128

CONSENT STATEMENT:

I have read the above information and agree to participate in this research study. I understand
that if I have any questions or concerns regarding this project, I can contact the investigator at the
above location or the Eastern University Institutional Review Board at IRB@eastern.edu. I
consent to participate in the study.
_____________________________ ________________
(Participants Signature) (Date)
______________________________ _________________
(Investigator Signature) (Date)
129

Appendix B: Interview Protocols (Semi-structured interviews)

Interview Protocols/Questions

Research Question
What is the perceived role of emotional intelligence on the leadership effectiveness of executive-
level female community colleges leaders?

Rapport Building
Private, in-depth initial interviews will be conducted by the researcher and each study participant
in an environment that allows the participant to feel comfortable and, therefore, focused on the
interview. I expect that the interview will occur in an office or conference room. The interview
will look and feel as though it is a conversation. Ice-breaking strategies will be incorporated at
the beginning of each interview. These approaches will maximize my ability to gain rapport,
ensure confidentiality, as well as convey empathy to the study participants.

Opening Interview Dialogue / Warm up Questions


We are going to be talking about what emotionally intelligent leadership means to you. For
purposes of this interview, emotional intelligence comprises the appraisal of a social situation, or
interpersonal exchange, resulting in a greater awareness of the impact of ones emotional
responses in that situation; the regulating of emotional responses in oneself or others; and the
ability to adapt ones emotional response to achieve a desired outcome.

In your view, how does it feel to be an emotionally intelligent leader?


Think about someone who you perceive as being an emotionally intelligent leader. Now
identify and describe her characteristics.

Primary Interview Questions


A recognized definition of emotion is considered to be ones controlled mental reaction
to a particular experience. In what ways does your emotional reaction impact your
leadership in your work?
In your role of a community college leader, think about a time that you were faced with a
peer who had opposing views on an important issue and whose position was ultimately
implemented. What did you think about when you were considering options to navigate
the situation? How did you make sense of the results?
Lets consider the same situation that resulted in the peer changing her views to align
with your own as a result of your emotional response to the situation. What steps did you
take to regulate your emotional response? How did it feel afterwards?
In your work, when are you most aware of your emotional reactions?
130

Lets talk about a time in your work as a community college leader that you consciously
regulated your emotional response in a social exchange in order to reach a desired
outcome. How did you select the given outcome opposed to responding differently? What
was the process like? How has your emotional regulation developed over time?
Would you say that your sense of adaptability has changed or developed while serving in
your role as a senior-level community college leader?
Describe which leadership experiences have influenced your ability to adapt to
ambiguous situations?
In what ways do you adapt your emotional response(s) to an unexpected comment or
situation?
Tell me about the most important influences on your emotional intelligence during your
academic career?

During the course of the interviews, I will select additional questions as the dialogue develops.

Closing
Is there anything that we did not cover that you would like to add or feel would help me to
understand the role of emotional intelligence in your leadership effectiveness?