Emotional intelligence (EI) has been deemed a critical competency for leaders in today's world. However, there is little information to help OD practitioners, leaders, and organizations understand how leaders can develop these skills in ways that meaningfully and positively impact their teams and organizations. This study examined the journeys of senior leaders as they developed their emotional intelligence. The study addressed two research questions: how leaders perceive they have developed their emotional intelligence throughout their lifetimes and how leaders are continuing to develop their emotional intelligence in their lives and careers. Key themes emerged out of leader interviews and were coded, analyzed, and summarized. Key findings were discussed. Recommendations for leaders include engaging in and reflecting on challenging life and work experiences and participating in EI training, while recommendations for OD practitioners include providing stretch opportunities and thoughtfully constructing leadership development programs to prompt self-awareness, practical application, and reflection.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Emotional intelligence -- Case studies; Leadership -- Psychology; Psychology, Industrial

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kent Rhodes