Emotional Intelligence for School Administrators: A Priority for School Reform?

Moore, B. (2009), American Secondary Education, 37 (3), 20-28

It is now a widely accepted notion in the business world that emotional intelligence (EI) is a desirable quality in a leader, and one which contributes to successful leadership. This article by Bobby Moore suggests that the same is true for leaders in education. Moore highlights the emotional demands placed on Principals, Assistant Principals, school administrators and other school leadership staff, and discusses the benefits of training in EI towards greater effectiveness in these roles. Specific mention is given to the emotional experience school leaders go through when leading their staff through times of change and the skills required to support, coach and listen to all involved. EI is discussed as a valuable skill in all these areas, supported by research which suggests that emotionally competent leaders may be more successful in being able to influence and inspire others, maintain staff interest and overall growth.
With regards to specific EI development areas, the article encourages school leaders to engage in EI training, to further develop their skills in a number of areas including empathy for others, building trust, effective problem solving and understanding emotional barriers to change. In doing so, it suggests that school leaders will begin to regard knowledge of emotions as a valuable source of information. Further mention is given to the value of EI in training leaders to be more aware of the mood and emotions of those around them, enabling them to provide more appropriate supports to members of their leadership team, particularly during times of change

The potential for the influence of EI training for school administrators on student outcomes is also highlighted in this article. Moore reinterprets previous research findings, which failed to show a direct effect of the Principal and Vice Principal on student outcomes. He does so by discussing findings on the direct effect of leadership on areas including school ethos, teacher efficacy, staff morale and teacher commitment, noting that these areas have all been shown to have a direct effect on student outcomes. In this way, the overall message reads of the potential for school leaders to not only improve their leadership skills but to also affect positive student outcomes via the benefits of leadership training in EI.