Leader Emotional Intelligence and Work Engagement in Virtual Teams within a Healthcare Service Setting: A Quantitative Study

Kimberly Sebastian, Ph.D., James Hess Ed.D.


Abstract Virtual working arrangements have become an important component of the operating model for healthcare service businesses to consider for a variety of reasons, including recruitment of top talent, effective deployment of workforce, and reduction in operational overhead. Concomitant with this evolving pattern of organizational structure, there has been debate in the literature contrasting the effectiveness of virtual teams to the effectiveness of co-located (face-to-face) teams. While virtual-team-focused literature has recently begun to concentrate on virtual leadership attributes versus task-orientation and/or technology, little research has been conducted to more fully understand the impact of emotional intelligence on the overall work engagement of virtual teams within a healthcare service entity. This study examined the impact of 26 virtual leaders’ emotional intelligence, as assessed by the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), on the overall work engagement of 107 virtual team members measured through Utrecht’s Work Engagement Scale (UWES). As hypothesized, a positive and significant correlation was found between the overall emotional intelligence of the leader and the overall work engagement of virtual team members, as well as, with the dimensions of vigor and dedication. No significant correlation was found with the dimension of absorption.


Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Virtual Teams

Full Text:




Baltes BB, Dickson MW, Sherman MP, Bauer CC, LaGanke JS. Computer-mediated communication and group decision making: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 2002;87(1):156-79.

Benbasat I, Lim LH. The effects of group, task, context, and technology variables on the usefulness of group support systems: A meta-analysis of experimental studies. Small Group Research. 1993;24(4):430-62.

Dennis AR, Wixom BH, Vandenberg RJ. Understanding fit and appropriation effects in group support systems via meta-analysis. MIS Quarterly. 2001;25(2):167-93.

Fjermestad J. An analysis of communication mode in group support systems research. Decision Support Systems. 2004;37(2):239-63.

Mesmer-Magnus JR, DeChurch LA, Jimenez-Rodriguez M, Wildman J, Shuffler M. A meta-analytic investigation of virtuality and information sharing in teams. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 2011;115(2):214-25.

De Guinea AO, Webster J, Staples DS. A meta-analysis of the consequences of virtualness on team functioning. Information & Management. 2012;49(6):301-8.

Institute for Corporate Productivity. 2008. Retrieved from: www.inc.com. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Society of Humarn Resource Management. Employee job satisfaction and engagement: How employees are dealing with uncertainty. 2012. Retrieved from: www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/documents/12-0537%202012_jobsatisfaction_fnl_online.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Avolio BJ, Kahai S, Dodge GE. E-leadership: Implications for theory, research, and practice. The Leadership Quarterly. 2000;11(4):615-68.

Bell BS, Kozlowski SW. A typology of virtual teams: Implications for effective leadership. Group & Organization Management. 2002;27(1):14-49.

Dundis S, Benson S. Building more effective virtual teams: An examination of the task variable in online group problem-solving. International Journal on E-Learning. 2003;2(4):24-38.

Robbins SP. Organizational Behavior: Concepts, Controversies, and Applications. Upper Saddle River. NI: Prentice Hall; 1998.

Hess JD, Benjamin, BB. Utilizing emotional intelligence skills to enhance leadership and resilience-building process. Journal of Global Economics Management and Business Research, 2015;2(3):113-128.

Goleman D, Boyatzis R, MacKee A. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing; 2002.

Druskat VU, Wolff SB. Building the emotional intelligence of groups. Harvard Business Review. 2001;79(3):80-90.

Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Sitarenios, G. Measuring emotional intelligence with MSCEIT v. 2.0. Emotion. 2003;18:97–105.

Schaufeli W, Bakker A. Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Preliminary Users Manual. 2004.

Northouse PG. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.; 2010.

Northouse PG. Introduction to Leadership Concepts and Practice. California: Sage Publishing; 2009.

Wang Y, Huang T. The relationship of transformational leadership with group cohesiveness and emotional intelligence. Social Behavior and Personality, 2009;37(3):379-392.

Drucker P. The Effective Executive. HarperCollins Publishers. New York, NY; 1967.

Zhou J, George, J. Awakening employee creativity: The role of leader emotional intelligence. The Leadership Quarterly. 2003;14:545-568.

Dulewicz V, Higgs M. Leadership at the top: The need for emotional intelligence in organizations. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis. 2003;11(3) 193-210.

Mayer JD, Salovey P. What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications. pp. 3-31. New York, NY. Basic Books; 1997.

Kaukiainen A, Salmivalli C, Lagerspetz K, Tamminen M, Vauras M, Mäki H, Poskiparta E. Learning difficulties, social intelligence, and self–concept: Connections to bully–victim problems. Scandinavian journal of psychology. 2002;43(3):269-78.

Sutton J, Smith P, Swettenham J. Bullying and 'Theory of Mind': a critique of the 'Social Skills Deficit' view of anti-social behavior. Social Development. 1999;8(1):117-127.

Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR. Working Manual for the MSCEIT Research Version 1.1. Toronto. Multi-Health Systems; 1999.

Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR. Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT): Users manual. New York, NY. Multi-Health Systems; 2002.

Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. Retrieved from www.eiconsortium.org. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR. Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Findings, and Implications. Psychological Inquiry. 2004;15(3):197-215.

Sadri G. Emotional intelligence and leadership development. Public Personnel Management. 2012;41(3):535–547.

Major M. The effect of emotional intelligent relationships on patient satisfaction with nursing care (Doctoral dissertation). 2016; Available from ProQuest dissertations and Theses database.

Caruso D. Personal email communication. 2018.

Bakker AB, Leiter, MP. Work Engagement: A Handbook of Essential Theory and Research. Hove and New York. Psychology Press; 2010.

Seppala P, Mauno S, Feldt T, Hakanen J, Kinnunen U, Tolvanen A, Schaufeli W. The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2009;10:459-481.

Ravichandra K, Arasu R, Kumar A. The impact of emotional intelligence on employee work engagement behavior: An empirical study. International Journal of Business and Management. 2011;6(11):157-169.

Sy T, Tram S, O’Hara L. Relation of employee and manager emotional intelligence to job satisfaction and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2006;68(3):461-473.

Brunetto, Y, Keo, S, Shacklock K, Farr-Wharton, R. Emotional intelligence, job satisfaction, well-being, and engagement: Explaining organisational commitment and turnover intentions in policing. Human Resource Management Journal. 2012;22(4):428-441.

Ashkansasy NM, Daus CS. Rumors of the death of emotional intelligence in organizational behavior are vastly exaggerated. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2005;26:441-452.

Kanfer R, Ackerman P. Individual differences in work motivation: further explorations of a trait framework. Applied Psychol. Int. Rev. 2000;49:470-482.

Kanfer R, Heggestad EG. Motivational traits and skills: a person-centered approach to work motivation. In S. B. Cummings LL (Ed.), Research in Organizational Behavior. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press; 1997;19:1-56.

Mahon EG, Taylor SN, Boyatzis RE. Antecedents of organizational engagement: exploring vision, mood and perceived organizational support with emotional intelligence as a moderator. Frontiers in Psychology. 2014;5:1322.

O'Boyle Jr EH, Humphrey RH, Pollack JM, Hawver TH, Story PA. The relation between emotional intelligence and job performance: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2011;32(5):788-818.

Papadogiannis PK, Logan D, Sitarenios G. An ability model of emotional intelligence: A rationale, description, and application of the Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). In Assessing Emotional Intelligence. Boston, MA:Springer; 2009:43-65.

Schmitt N, Cortina JM, Ingerick MJ, Wiechmann D. Personnel selection and employee performance. Handbook of Psychology: Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 2003;12:77-105.

Conte J. A review and critique of emotional intelligence measures. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2005;26:433-440.

Locke E. Why emotional intelligence is an invalid concept. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2005;26:425-431.

Mattews G, Zeidner M, Roberts RD. Emotional Intelligence: Science and Myth. Cambridge: Bradford Book; 2002.

Murphy K. A Critique of Emotional Intelligence: What Are the Problems and How Can They Be Fixed? Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; 2006

Schulte MJ, Ree MJ, Carretta TR. Emotional intelligence: Not much more than g and personality. Personality and Individual Differences. 2004;37(5):1059-68.

Joseph DL, Newman DA. Emotional intelligence: An integrative meta-analysis and cascading model. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2010;95:54-78.

van Zyl CJ, de Bruin K. The relationship between mixed model emotional intelligence and personality. South African Journal of Psychology. 2012;42(4):532-542.

Grewel D, Salovey, P. Feeling smart: The science of emotional intelligence. American Scientist. 2005;93:330-339.

Feather R. Emotional intelligence in relation to nursing leadership: does it matter? Journal of Nursing Management. 2009;17:376-382.

Cummings G, Hayduk L, Estabrooks C. Mitigating the impact of hospital restructuring on nurses: the responsibility of emotionally intelligent leadership. Nursing Research. 2005;54(1):2-12.

Hutchinson, M, Hurley, J. Exploring leadership capability and emotional intelligence as moderators of workplace bullying. Journal of Nursing Management. 2013;21:553-562.

Kouzes JM, Posner, BZ. The Leadership Challenge, 3, Wiley.com; 2006.

Wheatley MJ. Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. ReadHowYouWant.com; 2010.

Duignan P, Bhindi N. Authenticity in leadership: an emerging perspective. Journal of Educational Administration. 1997;35(3):195-209.

Driskell JE, Radtke PH, Salas E. Virtual teams: Effects of technological mediation on team performance. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice. 2003;7:297-323.

Olson GM, Olson JS. Distance matters. Human Computer Interaction. 2000;15:139-179.

Wadsworth MB, Blanchard AL. Influence tactics in virtual teams. Computers in Human Behavior. 2015;44:386-393.

Sarker S, Valacich JS, Sarker S. Virtual team trust: Instrument development and validation in an IS educational environment. Information Resources Management Journal. 2003;16(2):35-56.

Kirkman BL, Mathieu J. The dimensions and antecedents of team virtuality. Journal of Management. 2005;31:700-718.

Malhotra M, Carman Lott. Face to face versus virtual teams: What we have learned. The Psychologist Manager Journal. 2001;17(10):2-29.

McGrath J. Time, interaction, and performance: A theory of groups. Small Group Research. 1991;22(2):147-174.

Liu YC. Virtual interactions - How do individual efforts contribute to overall performance in virtual teams. Pak. J. Statist. 2012;28(5):723-733.

Nandhakumar J, Baskerville R. Durability of online teamworking: Patterns of trust. Information Technology and People. 2006;19(4):371-389.

Newell S, David G, Chand D. An analysis of trust among globally distributed work teams in an organizational setting. Knowledge and Process Management. 2007;14(3):158-168.

Patel H, Pettitt M, Wilson J. Factors of collaborative working: A framework for collaboration model. Applied Ergonomics. 2012;43:1-26.

Gautier G, Kubaski S, Bassanino M, Fernando T. Solving the human problem: Investigation for a collaborative culture. Paper presentated at the Proceedings of the IESA 2009, International Conference on Interoperability for Enterprise Software and Applications, Beijing.

Pornsakulvanicha V, Haridakis P, Rubinb A. The influence of dispositions and Internet motivation on online communication satisfaction and relationship closeness. Computers in Human Behavior. 2008;24(5):2292-2310.

Bolden R, Hawkins B, Gosling J, Taylor S. Exploring leadership: Individual, organizational, and societal perspectives. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2011.

Ruggieri S. Leadership in virtual teams: A comparison of transformational and transactional leaders. Social Behavior and Personality. 2009;37(8):1017-1022.

Zigurs I. Leadership in virtual teams: Oxymoron or opportunity. Organizational Dynamics. 2003;31:339-351.

Purvanova R, Bono J. Transformational leadership in context: Face to face and virtual teams. The Leadership Quarterly. 2009;20:343-357.

Aon Hewitt. Trends in Global Employee Engagement. 2013. Retreived from www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/2013_Trends_in_Global_Employee_Engagement_Report.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Quoidbach J, Hansenne M. The impact of trait emotional intelligence on nursing team performance and cohesiveness. Journal of Professional Nursing. 2009;25(1):23-29.

Schein E. Organizational culture and leadership (4 ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, INC.; 2010.

Barsade S. The ripple effect emotional contagion and its influence on group behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly. 2002;47:644-675.

Torrente P, Salanova M, Llorens S, Schaufel W. Teams make it work: How team work engagement mediates between social resources and performance in teams. Psicothema. 2012:24(1):106-112.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Cabello R, Sorrel M, Fernandez-Pinto I, Extremera N., Fernandez-Berrocal P. Age and gender differences in ability emotional intelligence in adults: A cross-sectional study. Developmental Psychology. 2016;52(9):1486-1492.

Gallup. State of the American Workplace. 2016. Retrieved from www.gallup.com/contact. Accessed October 8, 2018.


  • There are currently no refbacks.