A descriptive qualitative study of nurse leaders' perceptions of emotional intelligence and use in daily practice
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe nurse managers’ perceptions and use of emotional intelligence (EI) in their daily practice in two community hospitals in western Canada. Emotional intelligence can be defined as the “ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189; Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Mayer and Salovey’s (1997) Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence was used as a conceptual framework to examine ten nurse managers experiences of how they perceive and use EI in daily practice. Data were collected over a 12 week period using interviews and analyzed using open coding to categorize and develop themes. Three major themes and several subthemes emerged from the data as important to nurse managers’ perceptions and use of EI. The two themes, Perceiving Emotional Intelligence and Managing Emotions were more evident than the third theme, Managing Relationships. This study demonstrates that nurse managers have the ability to perceive and use emotions in themselves and others. This is an important finding as nurse managers are expected to be leaders within the organization. The ability to develop relationships evolved from the data and was an important theme for participants in order to understand the interaction and relationship between self and other. This finding was important to participants yet the concept of relationships is missing in the Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence. Although there are nursing studies which explore emotional intelligence, there are no studies which examine nurse managers’ perceptions of EI and how they use EI in their daily practice. The findings of this exploratory, qualitative study contribute to a beginning understanding of nurse managers’ perceptions and use of EI in their daily practices.