Are Women Better Leaders Than Men?

 Men vs. Women Emotional Intelligence

This blog post is short summary of the ideas presented in MBA Student, Sue C. Mayfield’s article, entitled Gender Difference in Emotional Intelligence and Effective Leaders. This paper focuses on the differing models of emotional intelligence and analyzes the current research on emotional intelligence in relation to gender in attempts to discover the answer to the main query presented, are women better leaders than men?

The work of researcher, Daniel Goleman  has been instrumental in working towards answering to this question.  So far he has found that truly effective leaders possess high degrees of emotional intelligence (1998). Women have long been thought off as being better at interpersonal relations and their use of empathy, which are factors that contribute to greater emotional intelligence. But does research support this commonly held belief, keep on reading to find out.

It is important to define “Emotional Intelligence”(EI) which is, “the set of abilities (verbal and non-verbal) that enable a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own and others’ emotions in order to guide thinking and action that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures” (Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). EI is involved in one’s ability to control their emotions especially under stress (Wu, 2011), understand emotions, and distinguish, react, and adapt to emotional information (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2003).  Reference the diagram the diagram below for clarification.

Emotional Intelligence business diagram

Presently, three EI models exist, two of which describe EI as a mixed model, and one in which EI is viewed as an ability model.  The ability model of EI created by Peter Salovey and John Mayer suggests that EI is a pure intelligence.   Furthermore, this model refers to EI as a new intelligence (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2003).  Research conducted by Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey in 1999 using their model’s framework, found a gender difference after analysis of emotional intelligence tests, with women outperforming men in the area particularly of perceived emotions.  Of noteworthy mention this model created the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), which is 141-item evaluation, which is used in a variety of settings to evaluate emotional intelligence.

The second EI model created by Reuven Bar-On is the Bar-On Mixed Model.  Bar-On’s mixed model approach places emphasis on the individual’s traits or personality and their potential for performance (Bar-On, 2002).  Bar-On established the “Emotional Quotient” (EQ-i), measures the individual’s ability to be successful in using their coping mechanisms.  Using Bar-On’s model, the ability to handle stressful environments, and impulse control are attributed to individuals with high EQ-I scores (Bar-On, 2002).   Bar-On demonstrated in his research, that women possess stronger interpersonal skills than men.  However, results also concluded that men appeared to be more adept at managing their emotions than women (Bar-On, 1997).

Bar-On suggests that EI can be increased over time through the normal aging process, and can also be externally developed through training.  EQ-i consists of 133 items and uses 5 scoring scales to measure EI: intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptability, stress management, and general mood (Bar-On, 2002).

Moreover, recent research has found that transformational leaders exhibit high levels of EI (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003) and that highly emotionally intelligent transformational leaders are more effective in shaping better service climates (Hur et al., 2011). Researchers Bass and Avolio described the transformational leader as one who motivates his/her coworkers, assists others in job development, creates and encourages an inspirational work attitude, and implements the vision of the company.  They concurred that transformational leaders are more effective than transactional leaders; the latter of which used work policy, compliance adherence, and task completion to evaluate workers’ performance (Bass & Avolio, 1994).

Findings revealed that female superiors rated themselves with transformational traits than male superiors, with females rating themselves higher than the males in interpersonal-type transformational leadership.  Research also found that men overrate themselves in their perceived performance when self-reporting EI, and women do not (Brackett, 2006).

Researchers Mandell and Pherwani present contradictory findings to the ones presented by Carless in 1998, which found no difference in gender and EI. Their findings concluded that no significant interaction between gender and emotional intelligence exists and there is a significant difference in the emotional intelligence scores of male and female managers, with females scoring significantly higher than males (Mandell & Pherwani, 2003).

As Bar-On stated, individuals possessing problems coping with environmental stresses lack in the EI subscales.  High emotional quotient individuals, however, are proficient and successful in their abilities to handle environmental demands (Bar-On, 2002).   Findings from Taiwanese researchers, which found that employees with high EI are more likely than those with low EI to convert or lessen the potential negative effects of job stress on job performance (Wu, 2011) strengthens Bar-On’s claims.

So to end this very long post research in the field of emotional intelligence and gender differences is not widely covered. The following is suggested by reserach as they are more commonly seen in research studies on emotional intelligence, women typically score higher than men on EI tests, with men self-reporting higher than women (Bracket, 2006).  Therefore, it would appear as if women are better leaders based on emotional intelligence, but only further research will verify this.  And of course it is important to note that these results are not absolute, are generalized because of lack of cross-cultural examinations, and have many restrictions.  More research is required to reveal if women are actually better leaders.

Thanks for reading, if you like what you read you can follow me on  Twitter at DemelioU or  you can subscribe  to my RSS feed the little orange button in the left hand menu. Special Thanks to Sue C. Mayfield, M.B.A Student. College of Management, Metropolitan State University.  If you would like a copy of her literature review email

Demelio U.

Signing OFF


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s