Journal of Leadership &
19(2) 191 –201
© Baker College 2012
Reprints and permission:
Good looks, a firm handshake, height, weight, extrover-
sion, wit—these attributes have been linked to what makes
a successful salesperson. Yet how does one sell to, motivate,
or inspire (i.e., lead) salespeople? Although the characteris-
tics of what leads to successful salespeople have long been
an area of interest for both researchers and practitioners, the
characteristics of leaders in sales organizations that affect
performance has been largely neglected. Emotional intelli-
gence (EI), the “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’
feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to
use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”
(Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189), has been associated with
sales performance (Rozell, Pettijohn, & Parker, 2006).
Emotional and social intelligence (ESI) also has an emerg-
ing track record of being linked to leadership performance
(Kerr, Garvin, Heaton, & Boyle, 2006). Scholars have sug-
gested that future research should look at the particular
context of sales leadership and the impact of leader’s EI as
a contributing factor in the success of sales organizations
(Ingram, LaForge, Locander, MacKenzie, & Podsakoff,
2005). This study is an attempt to build insight and specify
causal factors in understanding sales leadership.
Contingency theories of management and leadership
effectiveness have contended that the leader should have
characteristics and behavior suited to the job demands and
organizational environment (Boyatzis, 1982). Building on
earlier contingency theories, such as Fielder’s (1967),
Boyatzis (1982) claimed that competencies, as well as traits
such as generalized intelligence and personality, would
affect performance, depending on the job function and orga-
nization. Functional leadership theory also claimed that the
leader’s job was to do anything necessary to make the orga-
nization effective (Hackman & Walton, 1986). Models of
indirect leadership contend that influence processes, from a
top-down perspective, include indirect leadership beginning
with ideas and mental models of higher organizational-level
managers on what to do (visions and goals), as well as how
to get it done (implementation; Larsson, Sjoberg, Vrbanjac,
& Bjorkman, 2005).
The current research sought to test how ESI competen-
cies, cognitive intelligence (g), and personality would
affect performance when the job—sales leadership—and
organization—a specific financial services company—
were held constant.
is et al.Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies
© Baker College 2012
Reprints and permission: http://www.
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA, USA
Vaudreuil-Dorion, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Richard E. Boyatzis, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid
Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Intelligence
and Personality as Predictors of Sales
Richard E. Boyatzis
, Darren Good
, and Raymond Massa
Leaders of sales organizations must recruit and inspire salespeople to grow the organization. Skepticism remains about the
role of emotional and social intelligence (ESI) in effective leadership. ESI is criticized as not providing distinctive variance
in leadership performance beyond general intelligence and personality. This study assessed the role of the behavioral level
of ESI competencies on leader performance. The number of new recruits was shown to predict new cash invested 6 years
later. ESI significantly predicted leader performance (i.e., recruitment) whereas measures of generalized intelligence and
personality did not. Adaptability and influence were two competencies distinctively predicting sales leadership performance.
leadership, emotional intelligence, competencies, intelligence, personality
192 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)
To do this, we need to address the current issues with
validity as it relates to EI and leadership. Although EI has
been glorified as a key ingredient in leader effectiveness, it
has also been labeled as misdirection and lacking sufficient
empirical validation (Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2002).
A primary cause of such skepticism stems from the belief
that the EI construct does not add incremental value to g or
personality (Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998; Harms &
Credé, 2010; MacCann, Roberts, Matthews, & Zeidner,
2003). As a result, scholars have suggested the need to study
EI along with both g and personality in predicting real-world
outcomes (Antonakis, Ashkanasy, & Dasborough, 2009;
Brody, 2004; Cherniss, 2010). In fact, “EI’s predictive utility
beyond cognitive ability and personality is considered to be
its litmus test” (Walter, Cole, & Humphrey, 2011, p. 47). Yet
in the leadership literature, only one study to date examines
EI beyond g and personality, looking at its impact on oth-
ers’ ratings of leader emergence (Cote, Lopes, Salovey, &
Miners, 2010). The present study investigates EI’s impact
on leadership performance beyond g and personality in a
context with a clear objective outcome. Sales leadership
provides such a functional context. This is the potential
contribution of the study to the empirical literature and,
therefore, assists in further refining theoretical frameworks
about EI and its impact on leadership.
The Context of Sales Leadership
Sales leadership is “the leadership activities performed by
those in a sales organization to influence others to achieve
common goals for the collective good of the sales organiza-
tion and company” (Ingram et al., 2005, p. 137). Although
selling may be thought of as a largely autonomous process,
sales leaders have an impact on the environments they lead
and on organizational performance outcomes (Dubinsky &
Skinner, 2002; Mulki, Jaramillo, & Locander, 2009). Like
any organizational leader, they are responsible for articulat-
ing a compelling vision and aligning followers in a way that
motivates them to achieve on behalf of the organization. Yet
sales leaders have some unique challenges that are not as
pressing in leadership roles within other more traditional
organizational structures (Colletti & Chonko, 1997). Central
among these is the predicament of assessing performance
by simultaneously using short-term and longer term metrics
(Ingram et al., 2005). This challenge is evident in the con-
text of the sales leaders we investigated for this study.
In the present study, we look at the sales leadership of
divisional executives (DEs) who work for a leading finan-
cial services company. The DEs’ personal compensation
and that of their sales staff is entirely based on the office’s
financial performance. They sell financial products from an
approved portfolio. They recruit and train financial advisors
(FAs) and their managers, whose total compensation pack-
age is also entirely based on commissions for new cash
invested by clients, as it is for the DEs. The firm provides
recommended systems for sales, service, recruitment, and
development of financial consultants. Often, the DE con-
ducts the training and mentoring of the FAs directly. This is
an example of the combination of direct and, at times, indi-
rect leadership (Waldman & Yammarino, 1999; Yammarino,
1994). Therefore, the most important aspect of the DE’s job
is to continually grow the organization’s assets under man-
agement (AUM) through growing the number and quality of
the FAs. Asset management firms make money on the AUM.
There are only two ways in which to increase this: market
effect (which can go up or down) and growth in net cash.
The DE leads the organization of branch or office managers
and FAs who sell the products and report to them directly. As
FAs grow in their role over time and become senior, they
begin to accumulate AUM on behalf of the organization.
Senior FAs are vital to the firm but are not enough to
ensure long-term growth. Generally, more senior FAs have
more tenured clients, and these sometimes leave the organi-
zation. Thus, the senior FAs’ gross “cash in” may be good but
once “cash out” is deducted (e.g., from clients taking invest-
ments elsewhere), there may be a decline, particularly if the
total amount of their business is large. For example, a senior
FA could bring in $10 million in new cash invested by new
clients but lose $12 million in accounts from older clients
who move to another AUM firm, which is reasonable if he or
she has a total of $150 million in client’s AUM. The resulting
net assets are down. Also, senior FAs are more likely to leave
the firm, and when this happens, they often take their existing
clients with them. To avoid the decline that comes with sea-
soned clients and to foster growth, a steady stream of new
FAs need to be recruited to join the organization. Therefore,
the number of new FAs recruited becomes a major perfor-
mance indicator for the sales executive in this business.
Predicting Performance With Recruitment
Recruiting FAs is considered an important measure in this
sales context (Spiro, Stanton, & Rich, 2008). Put simply, the
more FAs, the more cash comes in. The more newer FAs, the
more “newer” cash comes in, increasing net cash. Although
the number of FAs may not fully account for net cash
invested (i.e., the quality of recruits and/or retention may
also have an impact), it still predicts long-term AUM perfor-
mance, as illustrated in the time lag analysis of this sales
force offered in the Method section of this article. But there
is a time lag in how new FAs can generate new clients and
bring new cash invested into the firm.
A Sales Leader’s ESI
A sales leader, like any organizational leader, must create an
alignment and direction to meet the needs of the organiza-
tion. As an organizational leader, he or she is tasked with
carrying out longer term objectives as opposed to short-
term operations (Lussier, 2009). In the sales context of the
Boyatzis et al. 193
current study we are concerned with factors that affect a
sales leader’s ability to influence followers in the recruiting
of new FAs as a way of demonstrating leadership perfor-
mance. The purpose of this study is to show that in addition
to intelligence and aspects of personality, a leader’s EI will
affect recruiting numbers.
All leadership interactions are, in part, emotional activi-
ties. Ashforth and Humphrey (1995) stated, “The experi-
ence of work is saturated with feeling” (p. 144). Therefore, a
leader’s ability to intra- and interpersonally understand and
manage emotion affects how followers respond (Humphrey,
Pollack, & Hawver, 2008; Rosete & Ciarrochi, 2005). As
such, the EI of a leader should affect the organization at
every level of interaction in both direct and indirect ways
At the dyadic level, a DE’s EI is used in supporting and
influencing followers to execute the successful recruitment
of new FAs. How sales leaders emotionally respond through-
out the recruiting process will likely influence the followers’
emotional response to it as well (Bono & Ilies, 2006; Sy,
Cote, & Saavedra, 2005). Additionally a leader who manages
emotions effectively can influence followers to carry out a
recruitment process in more successful ways. A follower who
works for an emotionally intelligent leader develops higher
levels of trust and confidence in the leader and in the organi-
zation: both of which are important criteria for carrying out
successful recruitment efforts. It is partially through an itera-
tive process of relating well to followers (behaving with EI)
that the leader is able to convey a sense of organizational
identity, which then guides individuals collectively at the
team, branch office, and organizational level (Gittell, 2001).
Prati, McMillan-Capehart, and Karriker (2009) suggest
that strong organizational identity is fostered through the
leader’s proper use of emotional and relational skills. To
build an organization that continues to recruit new FAs, the
sales leader must establish a sense of organizational identity
in which followers see the organization as a part of who
they are (Mael & Ashforth, 1992). This can influence a
clanlike culture (Deshpandé, Farley, & Webster, 1993) in
which self-interest is regularly set aside for the larger needs
of the organization (Prati et al., 2009). In a sales context,
this is essential, as the group sees hiring new employees as
a contribution to the needs of the whole. The leader plays a
significant role in shaping this emotional community
(Gittell, 2001) by setting an emotional tone and pace for
others to follow (Mulki et al., 2009). The emotionally intel-
ligent sales leader provides the affective environment in
which motivation by the firm to recruit others is provided
(Sosick & Megerian, 1999).
This study tests the relationship between ESI and effective-
ness of sales leaders beyond the effects of personality and
g. In general, ESI represents “a set of interrelated abilities
for identifying, understanding, and managing emotions, both
in the self and in others” (Matthews, Emo, Funke, Zeidner,
& Roberts, 2006, p. 96). Although there have been various
attempts to organize the differing forms of ESI, in general
the ESI construct has been conceptualized as abilities, a
mixed-model or trait approach, or a set of behavioral com-
petencies. The ability model conceptualizes ESI as a mental
skill assessed through a performance test (Mayer–Salovey–
Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test [MSCEIT]; Mayer,
Salovey, & Caruso, 2000). Other EI theories have been
called mixed-models, because of the treatment of ESI as a
combination of aspects of emotional skill, competencies,
and traits (Mayer et al., 2000). For example, Bar-On’s (1997)
model is assessed using the Emotional Quotient Inventory
(EQ-i), primarily a self-report. The EQ-i has strong theo-
retical overlap with aspects of personality as measured by
the Big Five (MacCann et al., 2004).
The competency approach offers a behavioral perspec-
tive to ESI (Cherniss, 2010), based on 40 years of identify-
ing competencies that predict work success. A competency
is defined as a behavior with the associated intent of rec-
ognizing, understanding, and using emotional information
about oneself or others that leads to or causes effective or
superior performance (Boyatzis, 2009). This approach is
based on behavioral observation or informant reports, not
This behavioral level of ESI complements the ability and
trait theories (Mayer, 2009). Whereas some have argued
that ESI is a manifestation of intelligence and personality
(Matthews et al., 2002), others suggest that ESI competen-
cies provide a more direct way of understanding workplace
outcomes than general EI (Riggio, 2010). Although the
“definitions of EI are often varied for different researchers,
they nevertheless tend to be complementary rather than
contradictory” (Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, 2000, p. 540). It
is likely that the underlying ability to manage one’s emo-
tions, as assessed through a performance measure such as
the MSCEIT, will create a self-schema or self-image and
self-attributions that would be evident in self-assessment
measures of ESI-related themes (McClelland, 1951). Until
the person has to respond to environmental, situational, or
job demands, the behavioral manifestations of a person’s
ESI will not appear (Boyatzis, 2009). The latter emerges as
demonstrated behavior, seen by others who live or work
around the person. In this way, the behavioral level of ESI
is most likely to relate to job performance and outcomes
(Cherniss, 2010; Riggio, 2010).
Hypothesis 1: ESI competencies as seen by others
will significantly predict sales leader performance.
Seeking Incremental Validity
As stated earlier, it is important when establishing validity
of any of the EI models to demonstrate variance explained
194 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)
beyond personality and g. Some measures of general men-
tal ability have been predictive of job performance (Schmidt
& Hunter, 2004) and leadership (Judge, Colbert & Ilies,
2004). Studies have cited cognitive intelligence as a major
predictor of leadership effectiveness (Lord, De Vader, &
Alliger, 1986). Measures of EI have been demonstrated to
correlate significantly with g (Van Rooy & Viswesvaran,
2004). Specifically, the emotional understanding section of
the MSCEIT correlates with crystallized intelligence (aver-
age r = .38) across multiple studies (Roberts, Schulze &
MacCann, 2008). Since g explains a considerable amount
of variance in some studies of workplace performance and
given its theoretical relationship to ESI, assessing the
impact of g is important in establishing incremental predic-
tive validity of ESI (Walter et al., 2011).
Hypothesis 2: Cognitive intelligence will signifi-
cantly predict sales leader performance.
Like general intelligence, there is concern about ESI’s
ability to predict job success beyond personality, especially
with the mixed-model or trait approaches (Matthews et al.,
2002). A range of organizational outcomes have been associ-
ated with aspects of personality, including job performance
(Barrick & Mount, 1991; Lord et al., 1986; Zaccaro, 2007)
and leader performance (Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt,
2002). Conscientiousness has been repeatedly cited as a
predictor of effectiveness in many jobs, including leadership
(Arvey, Rotundo, Johnson, Zhang, & McGue, 2006) and sales
(Barrick, Mount, & Strauss, 1993). Scholars have suggested
that EI is simply another way of studying personality under a
revised naming convention (Davies et al., 1998). For exam-
ple, the MSCEIT is correlated with Agreeableness (Mayer,
Roberts, & Barsade, 2008), whereas the EQ-i, shows high
correlations with traits in the Big Five (Dawda & Hart, 2000).
Therefore, assessing the impact of personality is important
in assessing the incremental, predictive capacity of ESI.
Hypothesis 3: Personality traits will significantly pre-
dict sales leader performance.
Results have been mixed in the few studies testing the
incremental capacity of ESI beyond personality and intelli-
gence (Bastian, Burns, Nettelbeck, 2005; Harms & Credé,
2010; Rode, Arthaud-day, Mooney, Near, & Baldwin, 2008;
Rode et al., 2007). Although EI predicted academic success
(Petrides, Frederickson, & Furnham, 2004), its significance
disappears beyond measures of g and personality (Barchard,
2003; Newsome et al., 2000; Rode et al., 2007). Rode et al.
(2007) found that the MSCEIT predicted a small but sig-
nificant variance in students’ public speaking beyond intel-
ligence and personality but did not significantly predict GPA
or the capacity to work well in groups.
In nonacademic life, the MSCEIT demonstrated unique
variance explained beyond personality and g in predicting
Anxious Thoughts (ΔR
= .06), yet failed to find incremen-
tal validity from self-report or ability EI in problem solving
(Bastian et al., 2005). At work, the MSCEIT did not show
unique variance in salary, perceived job, and career success
of new workers when measured along with personality and
g (Rode, Mooney, et al., 2008). Cote and Miners (2006) did
not show direct effects of EI assessed with the MSCEIT in
later steps of a hierarchal regression on bosses’ assessment
of job performance, but EI and g had a significant incre-
mental variance (ΔR
= .02) of the interaction of EI and g.
At the same time, Downey, Lee, and Stough (2011) showed
that EI, assessed through a self-report, was a significant pre-
dictor of revenue for recruitment consultants, whereas g and
personality were not.
Two recent meta-analyses have attempted to shed addi-
tional light on this question of incremental validity in the
context of job performance. Mixed results were found
regarding incremental validity of EI, concluding that ability
measures (e.g., MSCIET) do not demonstrate incremental
validity (Joseph & Newman, 2010). Yet they found that self-
report, mixed-model measures of EI did add incremental
variance beyond intelligence and personality (ΔR
Similar findings for ability measures and slightly less robust
findings for the mixed-model self-reports (ΔR
= .068) were
reported by O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver, and
This study attempts to add to the literature by testing the
behavioral approach to EI in predicting sales leadership
performance beyond g and personality. As explained earlier,
recruiting capacity of the division leader is used as a mea-
sure of sales leadership performance.
Hypothesis 4: ESI competencies as seen by others
will predict sales leadership performance beyond
personality and intelligence.
The independent variables were collected first, and the
control and dependent variable were collected 12 months
later. Data were collected before the global financial market
crisis of 2008. The company functioned smoothly through
the crisis and maintained its independence.
Participants were DEs of a financial services company, with
more than 4,000 full-time financial consultants. The com-
pany had 79 DEs. Each division had multiple offices serving
individual, family, and organizational clients. Of the DEs,
67 fit the eligibility criteria: 1 or more years in the leadership
Boyatzis et al. 195
role and in good standing with the firm. Of these, 62 com-
pleted assessment instruments, but 2 were incomplete. The
final sample was 60.
Criterion measure of leader performance. The ultimate
measure of a DE’s sales leadership in this company is new
cash invested by clients. New cash invested might reflect
client relationships built in the past or by a predecessor. The
duration of client relationships for this firm is considered
long within the industry.
A principal function of the DE in this company is to
recruit and hire financial consultants, as evident in other
sales management positions (Spiro et al., 2008). So it was
decided to use a more contemporaneous measure of perfor-
mance in a 1-year horizon as the number of financial con-
sultants recruited. The belief is that cash brought in during
the 1 year will not adequately reflect a leader’s perfor-
mance, as it may be associated with existing relationships.
Yet recruitment numbers over time will lead to cash brought
into the firm.
In the time frame of this study (a 1-year period), the
recruitment of FAs is the best measure available to predict
long-term success. With compensation packages being
100% commission based and training costs being minimal,
total recruitment should lead to longer term results. Table 1
shows the relationship of recruits by the entire organization
over a 7-year period regressed against current cash brought
in. Recruitment of FAs shows a significant impact on new
cash invested by clients with a 6-year lag. This lag in FA
recruitment impact is because of the natural maturation
period in sales of growing new business. FAs usually move
from nonsignificant business in the first few years to sub-
stantial production thereafter.
The company studied mirrored retention in the industry
during this period: 4-year retention of financial consultants
was about 31% (Honan, 2009). Therefore, although reten-
tion is a challenge, it is a constant in the industry. Yet with
operations dependent 100% on commission, the impact of
turnover (often accounting for 1.5 to 2.5 times the employ-
ee’s salary) is of less concern. For this context, a challenge
is continual recruiting even while many people maintain a
pessimistic view of sales (Lysonski & Durvasula, 1998).
Therefore, for a 1-year period, the best possible indicator of
long-term sales success is recruitment numbers.
“g.” The Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM)
was used to measure cognitive intelligence (i.e., g; Ravens,
1962). It is a widely used nonverbal measure of fluid rea-
soning or Spearman’s g. The APM consists of 36 items.
Each item shows an array of geometric shapes and asks the
respondent to choose from a set of alternatives for the miss-
ing graphic that fits the patterns present in the array. It is a
paper-based test that is administered with or without a time
limit. These tests were self-administered, so it was decided
not to impose a time limit. Given that the Ravens APM and
the Mill Hill Vocabulary (MHV) Scale administered together
is one of the most widely used measures of cognitive intel-
ligence in the past 60 years, the reliability and validity data
are apparent in the literature.
The MHV Scale has been recommended for use along
with the APM to compensate for gender differences in
visual assessment (Ravens, 1962). It is a multiple-choice
vocabulary test that measures crystallized intelligence. The
two intelligence test scores (the APM and the MHV Scale),
representing fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence,
were transformed into a composite factor score.
Personality. The NEO Personality Inventory–Revised was
used to measure personality traits (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
It is a self-report with 240 items. It assesses five domains of
personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion,
Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Internal consistency coef-
ficients range from .86 to .95 and stability coefficients rang-
ing from .51 to .83 have been found in 3-, 6-, and 7-year
longitudinal studies (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The NEO Per-
sonality Inventory–Revised has been validated against other
personality inventories and projective techniques (Costa &
McCrae, 1992). A scale score for each of the five traits was
calculated as an average item score and then standardized.
Emotional and social intelligence competencies. The ESI
competencies demonstrated by each subject were assessed
with the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory
(ESCI; Boyatzis & Goleman, 2007). The ESCI is an infor-
mant, multisource assessment, often called a “360°.” For
each of the 72 items, peers and subordinates of the executive
described how frequently he or she typically demonstrated
the behavior described in the item. Since it is a demonstra-
tion of behavior, self-assessment from the subjects was
Table 1. Regression of Number of Financial Consultants
Recruited Against New Cash Invested by Clients
Recruitment Variable β t Significance
7 Years earlier −.03 −0.152 .88
6 Years earlier .40* 2.327 .02
5 Years earlier −.04 −0.176 .86
4 Years earlier .24 1.221 .23
3 Years earlier −.03 −0.171 .87
2 Years earlier .16 1.057 .29
1 Year earlier .05 0.326 .75
F change 9.357**
NOTE: Over the 2 years from the start of this study, the number of divi-
sions had grown to 86.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
196 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)
discarded for the analysis. The test has been shown to have
desired reliability and validity (Wolff, 2007), good model
fit, and convergent and divergent validity at the scale level
in a sample of more than 67,000 test takers (Boyatzis &
Gaskin, 2010). A variety of performance and job outcome
validation studies are reviewed for this test and its earlier
versions in Boyatzis (2009).
The ESCI assesses 12 competencies: Emotional Self-
Awareness, Adaptability, Achievement Orientation, Emotional
Self-Control, Positive Outlook, Empathy, Organizational
Awareness, Inspirational Leadership, Influence, Conflict
Management, Coach and Mentor, and Teamwork. Scales
were calculated as an average item score per competency.
The ESI composite was an average scale score across all 12
competencies. All scores were standardized for analysis.
A confirmatory factor analysis was then run on the 12
scales with these items (χ
= 2005.91, degrees of freedom
[df] = 968, comparative fit index [CFI] = .919, root mean
square error of approximation [RMSEA] = .045, standard-
ized root mean square residual [SRMR] = .047) showing a
good fit. A second confirmatory factor analysis with all of
the competencies as a single score was conducted (χ
1961.3, df = 968, significance = .000, CFI = .923, RMSEA
= .044, SRMR = .0566), also showing good fit.
The average “others” views of the target person calcu-
lates an estimate of consensus views about their behavior.
The choice from whom to solicit such information is a
dilemma. People completing such assessments typically
choose which “others” from whom to collect the informa-
tion in research and practice (Farr & Newman, 2001). It is
believed that any bias in those asked to complete surveys
would be distributed across the sample (Shipper, Hoffman,
& Rotondo, 2007). Information came from an average of 9
informants per executive, with a range of 3 to 16. Informants
were assured of the confidentiality of their responses. An
aggregate others was calculated for each division executive
ESI composite of others’ observations of the leader.
Control variable: Size of division. Since larger divisions
could hire more financial consultants, size of the division
was calculated as the number of full-time financial consul-
tants working in that division at the end of the year. It was
treated as a control variable in the study. The number of
financial consultants recruited is likely to be affected by the
size of the division, so this was considered an important
variable to include in the analysis.
The correlations among variables are described in Table 2.
The size of the division was highly, positively correlated to
the leadership performance measure, as was conscientious-
ness. The ESI composite of others’ observations of the leader
was significantly, positively correlated with the number of
FAs recruited. The measure of cognitive ability, g, did not
significantly correlate with any other variable. ESI compos-
ite did not correlate with g or with any of the personality
Hierarchal, multiple regressions were calculated testing
three models, first size, then g and personality, then ESI, as
shown in Table 3. For number of FAs recruited, in Model 3,
size and ESI are positively significant. Model 3 shows that
only ESI adds significant, incremental, unique variance
beyond all other variables (ΔR
=.026, p < .05) in predicting
number of FAs recruited. Interaction effects were tested for
g and personality, ESI and g, and ESI and personality in
regressions. None were significant nor did they add any
unique variance. Additionally, as expected cash investments
for the 1 year under study did not show any significant rela-
tionship to any of the independent variables.
To summarize, Hypothesis 1 was supported. Hypothesis
2 and 3 were not supported. Hypothesis 4 was supported.
This study sought to address the argument in the leadership
literature as to whether ESI is merely a variation of tradi-
tionally constructed intelligence or personality. The litera-
ture has not previously seen a simultaneous test of these
Table 2. Correlation Matrix
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Financial consultants recruited —
2. g .23 —
3. Agreeableness −.08 −.03 —
4. Conscientiousness .30* .14 .41** —
5. Extroversion .09 −.08 .32** .20 —
6. Neuroticism −.08 −.14 −.44** −.47** −.36** —
7. Openness −.15 .16 .17 −.02 .33** −.18 —
8. Emotional and social intelligence .33** .04 −.15 −.14 .12 .10 −.17 —
9. Size .84** .11 −.15 .20 .10 .03 −.20 .23
*p < .05. **p < .01.
Boyatzis et al. 197
Table 3. Hierarchal Regression on the Number of Financial
Variable β R
Step 1 .73 —
Size of division .86**
Step 2 .76 .02
Step 3 .78 .03
NOTE: Ranges of tolerance and variance inflation factor for the three
steps were as follows: size, .784-1.275; g, .884-.1.131; personality traits,
.691-1.599; emotional intelligence/social intelligence, .830-1.205 (n = 60,
Durbin–Watson = 1.739).
*p < .05. **p < .01.
three constructs against an objective measure of leader
performance (Walter et al., 2011). This study examined ESI
competencies as measured by “others’ observations” and
found that ESI competencies improved prediction of leader
performance beyond g and personality.
Although a small sample, this study showed that ESI
competencies do add value to understanding leader perfor-
mance as measured by the number of FAs recruited. Given
the 1-year time frame of this study, this was believed to be
the strongest predictor of future AUM.
The results provided no evidence for the predictive
capacity of g and personality. Of the personality traits, only
conscientiousness demonstrated a significant first-order
correlation to effectiveness, but it failed to demonstrate any
significance in the regressions. As predicted, ESI demon-
strated unique variance beyond division size, g, and person-
ality. This is surprising given the consistent evidence from
other studies and meta-analyses about the importance of g
and specific personality traits such as conscientiousness
(Judge et al., 2002; Lord et al., 1986; Zaccaro, 2007). Given
that this study assessed them controlling for a job and the
organization, this suggests that there are more contingent
factors that may be affecting the relationships reported in
earlier studies. All of the subjects in this study were execu-
tives, so we might have witnessed a restricted range effect.
Although the distribution of scores on the measures of g
was similar to senior occupational samples according to the
technical manuals, the restricted range could be a result of
promotion policies or practices within this firm. The same
argument might apply to the lack of unique variance from
the personality traits assessed. Firm practices may have
resulted in less variation in these personality traits within
this sample than shown in other studies.
Although the added variance is small, the overall finding
is still an important contribution to help refute the claim that
ESI does not provide any incremental validity beyond g and
personality. A major difference in this study was that it
tested incremental validity of the behavioral level of ESI
competencies and an independent criterion measure of per-
formance in a work setting (Cherniss, 2010; Riggio, 2010).
Furthermore, the use of a sales leadership context provided
an objective outcome measure.
Although it was stretching the statistical power of the
small sample size, curiosity led to calculating regressions of
the competencies within the EI and SI clusters on the one
measure of leader effectiveness that had shown a significant
relationship. Separate regressions were used because of the
small sample size. The results showed that Adaptability and
Influence were significant predictors of the number of
financial consultants recruited within each of the clusters,
as shown in Tables 4 and 5.
Adaptive selling has shown to predict sales for insurance
agents along with a domain specific test of EI (Kidwell,
Hardesty, Murtha, & Sheng, 2010). The particularly potent
role of the influence competency is consistent with this
being a sales organization with all levels of management
and professionals on full commission-based compensation.
Influence is how they sell to a client and, therefore, it
appears how they help, inspire, motivate, or manage each
Adaptability is also cited as a key ingredient in lead-
ership effectiveness (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002). So
although we can infer that ESI is an overall factor of
importance to recruitment, it may also be important in
the training and development of leaders in this context.
Future research may focus on the role of the specific ESI
competencies of Adaptability and Influence. Assessment
centers assess characteristics related to the behavioral
approach to ESI. A meta-analysis of assessment center
studies found that g, personality, and behaviors similar
to ESI contributed significant unique variance in job
performance (Meriac, Hoffman, Woehr, & Fleisher,
2008). They also found that Influencing contributed one
of the two highest unique variances with Organizing and
Recently there has been a call from EI scholars to pay
attention to the specifics of context in the study job perfor-
mance and EI (Chernis, 2010; O’Boyle et al., 2010). This
study looks at sales leadership and its relationship to new
cash invested by clients and recruitment of new FAs. In this
context, recruitment is the primary driver of overall division
success. Although results from the EQ-i have been shown to
predict successful recruiters (Handley, 1997), this aspect of
leader performance has not been previously studied with an
198 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)
Table 4. Multiple Linear Stepwise Regression of Emotional Intelligence Competencies on Number of Financial Advisors Recruited (n = 60)
Standardized Coefficients Collinearity Statistics
Model β t Significance Tolerance Variance Inflation Factor
Constant ˜.0 0.000 1.000
Adaptability .343 2.439 .018 .651 1.537
Achievement Orientation .204 0.1337 .187 .552 1.810
Positive Outlook .200 1.388 .171 .617 1.620
Emotional Self-Awareness −.114 −0.835 .407 .690 1.449
Emotional Self-Control −.031 −0.250 .803 .850 1.177
F change 4.771 .001
Table 5. Multiple Linear Stepwise Regression of Social Intelligence Competencies on Number of Financial Advisors Recruited (n = 60)
Standardized Coefficients Collinearity Statistics
Model β t Significance Tolerance Variance Inflation Factor
Constant ˜.0 0.000 1.000
Conflict Management −.209 −1.372 .176 .670 1.492
Coach and Mentor −.011 −0.062 .951 .497 2.011
Empathy .003 0.017 .987 .477 2.097
.155 0.818 .417 .430 2.326
Influence .334 2.168 .035 .651 1.536
.169 0.951 .346 .493 2.029
Teamwork −.031 −0.159 .874 .408 2.453
F change 1.794 .108
Limitations and Future
Research and Practice
A limitation of this study is the small sample size. The find-
ings need to be replicated with a larger sample. The quality
of FAs recruited and recruitment ability of the executive
should also be examined in future research. The ESI of the
branch managers and the FAs would also offer important
data in assessing how EI affects organizational perfor-
mance driven from multiple levels of an organization.
Furthermore, important organizational outcome data could
help explain the mediating factors between ESI and recruit-
ment (e.g., commitment).
Another limitation that plagues most, if not all, research
using 360° assessment is that we do not know the precise
impact of allowing a participant to decide which others to
ask for survey completion. The method used in this study
is common practice and suspected to be lacking in possi-
ble selection bias, but it would be a contribution to the
field if research was done to determine or eliminate this
The findings suggest a refined focus for training and
development activities in a sales context. To develop the FAs
into effective leaders, the company could develop training,
assessment and development, and coaching activities to help
them develop and practice ESI behaviors. This may be espe-
cially important for a competency such as adaptability, which
can be improved with training (Heslin, 2005). Generally, the
findings suggest the importance of training future sales lead-
ers about the emotional aspects of leadership in influencing
followers to promote organizational objectives. Although EI
is consistently linked to selling effectiveness (Rozell et al.,
2006; Sojka & Deeter-Schmelz, 2002), current FAs may not
be as aware of the impact that it continues to have on true
“inside sales”—that within organizations.
In conclusion, ESI and the behavioral level of measure-
ment of ESI appear to contribute significant, unique vari-
ance in predicting leadership effectiveness, specifically in
recruitment, as compared with g and personality. If ESI
competencies are different from g and personality, then
using them in research and applications will be adding to
the validity of the research and utility of the applications.
Boyatzis et al. 199
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no financial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
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Richard E. Boyatzis is Distinguished University Professor and
professor in the Departments of Organizational Behavior,
Psychology and Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve
University. His research focuses on emotional intelligence compe-
tencies, leadership development and coaching.
Darren Good is an Assistant Professor of Management, in the
Luter School of Business at Christopher Newport University. His
research focuses on leader development with an emphasis on flex-
ibility and adaptability in real-time dynamic contexts.
Raymond Massa is a financial services executive and teaches
classes at Concordia University and Case Western Reserve
University. His research focuses on sales and sales management
effectiveness and emotional intelligence.