Predictors of effective leadership in industry – should engineering education focus on traditional intelligence, personality, or emotional intelligence?

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Despite the changing global and industrial conditions requiring new approaches to leadership, management training as part of higher engineering education still remains understudied. The subsequent gap in engineering education calls for research on today's leader requirements and pedagogy supporting the inclusion of management competence in higher engineering education. Previous organisation and management studies have, on a general level, established the importance of managerial qualities for industrial performance, but the nature and make-up of these qualifications has not been adequately analysed. To fill the related research gap, the present work embarked on a quantitative empirical effort to identify predictors of successful leadership in engineering. In particular, this study investigated relationships between perceived leader performance and three dimensions of managerial capability: (1) mathematical–logical intelligence, (2) personality, and (3) socio-emotional intelligence. This work complemented previous research by resorting to both self-reports and other-reports: the results acquired from the managerial sample were compared to subordinate perceptions as measured through an emotive intelligence other-report and a general managerial competence multi-source appraisal. The sample comprised 80 superiors and 354 subordinates operating in seven organisations in engineering industries.

The results from the quantitative measurements signalled the strongest correlation for socio-emotional intelligence and certain personality dimensions with successful leadership. Mathematical–logical intelligence demonstrated no correlation with subordinate perceptions of good leadership. These findings lay the foundation for the incorporation of socio-emotive skills into higher engineering education.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-233
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • engineering, intelligence, leadership, personality, socio-emotional intelligence

ID: 10273271