Original Research

The impact of coaching on the emotional and social intelligence competencies of leaders

Marlene Dippenaar, Pieter Schaap
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 20, No 1 | a1460 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v20i1.1460 | © 2017 Marlene Dippenaar, Pieter Schaap | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2015 | Published: 28 March 2017

About the author(s)

Marlene Dippenaar, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Pieter Schaap, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The development of the emotional intelligence of leaders has become an exceptionally popular enterprise. However, the empirical research conducted by practitioners to date does not provide convincing evidence of the effectiveness of emotional intelligence development interventions. Robust and informative research on the effectiveness of coaching to develop the emotional intelligence of leaders is lacking.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine, describe and evaluate the impact of a theoretically substantiated coaching intervention on the emotional and social intelligence competencies of leaders in a financial services company.

Setting: The setting of the study is a financial services company in South Africa.

Methods: A mixed method approach using a quantitative and qualitative research design was considered appropriate. The quantitative research method consisted of a quasi-experimental design using a non-equivalent pre- and post test control group to measure the impact of the coaching intervention on a sample of 30 leaders. The Bar-On EQ-i scale was selected as a reliable and valid measure of emotional and social intelligence competencies. Wilcoxon’s statistic was calculated to determine the statistical significance of score differences between the experimental (N = 30) and control (N = 30) groups. The qualitative research method was comprised of semi-structured interviews with six of the leaders and their supervisors.

Results: The statistical results indicated that coaching significantly impacted the emotional and social intelligence competencies of leaders in terms of their overall emotional quotient (EQ), intrapersonal competency, interpersonal skills, stress management, self-regard and empathy. The semi-structured interviews provided rich descriptive themes and evaluations that corroborated the quantitative findings.

Conclusion: This research provided convincing empirical evidence of the positive impact of a long-term, spaced and goal-focused coaching intervention on the emotional and social intelligence competencies of leaders in a financial services institution. The finding suggests that a theoretically well substantiated coaching intervention and a robust empirical study can be effective in demonstrating the impact of coaching on the emotional and social intelligence competencies of leaders. However, the implications of the limitations pointed out in this study could have influenced the findings, and future research aimed at improving relevant research models should take these into account.


Keywords

Bar-On EQ-i; coaching; emotional intelligence; social intelligence; competency; leaders

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