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Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: A Phenomenological Study on Developmental Experiences of Effective Federal Government Leaders Open Access

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This dissertation examines the experiences of effective Federal Government leaders in developing their emotional intelligence (EI). Using a conceptual framework of adult learning, leadership, and leader development, this study focused on experiential and situated learning to discern how EI develops. The researcher in the context of this transcendental phenomenological study used social constructivism and interpretivism as theoretical lenses. The research involved administering a validated EI instrument to Federal government executives and then interviewing 11 of those executives to understand their meaningful EI developmental experiences.The findings generated six themes that were reconfigured using pattern analysis into the following conclusions: (a) a diverse array of factors affects EI developmental experiences; (b) EI developmental experiences are social and cultural in nature; and (c) effective EI development is experientially based. A fourth conclusion transcended those other three patterns - EI experiences are inherent for effective leadership. The research conclusions intimate important contributions to theory, namely: understanding how EI is developed within leaders; insights into the reality of effective Federal government leaders, to include building EI; attending to culture as a phenomenon impacting EI and leadership development; the evolving relationship between EI, adult learning, and leadership; and the vitality of qualitative research. In addition, this study suggested the following recommendations for practitioners: (a) integrate EI into leader development; (b) develop leaders using a scholar-practitioner orientation; (c) foster a culture that promotes learning about EI; and (d) capture and share the EI-related experiences. A holistic curriculum for developing EI within leaders is proposed.Lastly, this study suggested opportunities for robust future research. Greater research focus on the Federal government is needed. Culture must be explored in the context of EI. Also, EI research is needed at the organizational level of analysis. And in a more generic sense, this study encourages continued research on EI and its impact, to include researching the effectiveness of the proposed developmental framework.

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