LopezZafra VOL62No1Published Essay

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The Psychological Record, 2012, 62, 97–114

The Relationship Between Transformational
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence From a
Gendered Approach
Esther Lopez-Zafra
University of Jaén, Spain

Rocio Garcia-Retamero
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
University of Granada, Spain

M. Pilar Berrios Martos
University of Jaén, Spain

Studies on both transformational leadership and emotional intelligence have analyzed the relationship between emotions and leadership. Yet the relationships among these concepts and gender roles have not been documented. In this study, we investigated the relations among transformational leadership, emotional intelligence, and gender stereotypes. Four hundred thirty-­one Spanish undergraduates (162 men and 269 women; mean age = 19.56 years) in three different disciplines completed a questionnaire including scales for measuring emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, and gender identity. Results showed important differences across the different disciplines and illustrated that emotional intelligence and gender roles predict transformational leadership. These results are interpreted in line with current research on the topic of leadership and emotional intelligence.
Key words: gender roles, transformational leadership, emotional intelligence, gender approach
Although women’s participation in the workforce of industrialized societies is increasing substantially, the percentage of women in leading positions at the top of various organizations still remains low (Eagly, 2004, 2007; Eagly & Carli, 2003, 2007;
Jacobs, 1999), suggesting that there is a glass ceiling preventing women from accessing leadership positions (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995). Furthermore, it is typical to observe men and women in different occupations and leading in differing entrepreneurial contexts. These differences are due to early divisions of labor, which lead to different gender roles in men and women (Eagly & Wood, 1999; Eagly, Wood, &
Diekman, 2000; Wood & Eagly, 2002). The gender roles and the division of labor have promoted men and women having different occupations and academic training. Eagly and
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Esther Lopez-­Zafra, Departamento de Psicología, Área de Psicología Social, Edif. C5, Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071, Jaén, Spain.
E-mail: elopez@ujaen.es



Karau (2002) proposed the gender-­role congruity theory to explain the lack of women at the top of working organizations and the even smaller percentage of female leaders in positions incongruent with their gender role and suggested the labyrinth metaphor to explain the difficulties that women have in accessing positions of leadership (Eagly & Carli, 2007).
Gender roles are related to gender stereotyping. Gender stereotyping refers to people’s perception that men and women have different characteristics based on their gender. In fact, women are mostly viewed as occupying communal/feminine occupations, whereas men are viewed as occupying agentic/masculine occupations (Bosak, Sczesny, & Eagly,
2008; Garcia-­Retamero & Lopez-­Zafra, 2006b, 2008; Garcia-­Retamero, Müller, & Lopez-­
Zafra, 2011). Agency and communion are basic dimensions of traits. Agency encompasses mastery and control; communion manifests the sense of being at one with others in relatedness and sharing. Agency is closely tied to masculinity and communion to femininity
(Abele, Rupprecht, & Wojciszke, 2008).
The concept of leadership is related to agency traits (Chemers, 2001). In particular,
Schein (1973) showed that individuals’ perceptions about a typical man and a typical leader had several similarities, but there were few perceived similarities between a typical woman and a typical leader. These results have been replicated in other countries (e.g.,
Schein & Mueller, 1992; Schein, Mueller, Lituchy, & Liu, 1996).
However, literature about transformational leadership has illustrated