While exceptional leaders share certain qualities like a strong personal ethic and acompelling vision of the future, research has failed to provide conclusive 'proof' of the link between a leader's effectiveness and his / her emotional intelligence (defined from a cognitive perspective, as a set of abilities). Given the increased recognition of the importance of the role of emotions in the leadership literature, the question arises whether the concept of emotional intelligence has significance for leadership effectiveness. In a pioneering study in the South African context, we examined the possible relationship between four possible facets of emotional intelligence (defined as a multi-faceted ability) and five possible practices of exemplary leaders in the context of leadership in a Higher Education Institution. The sample comprised 138 managers within a Higher Education Institution. The findings provide some evidence that support a positive correlation between emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness.