Worldwide higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing challenges, particularly in developing countries. The way university lecturers have adapted, adjusted and sustained themselves is often trivialised due to the unfounded assumption that lecturers are emotionally intelligent. An empirical investigation was conducted to explore the coping strategies of Nigerian universities to identify the way emotional intelligence has helped in their adaptation, adjustment and sustenance.
I, therefore, used a qualitative research approach, embedded within the interpretive paradigm, to explore emotional intelligence in coping with challenges. I employed a multiple case study research design with a multiple case study analysis to investigate how twelve Nigerian university lecturers coped with professional, academic and institutional challenges posed to their emotional intelligence. Semi-structured individual interviews and field journals were used to generate data. Goleman s emotional competences (1995) and Bronfenbrenner s ecological theory (1979) guided the data analysis and interpretation.
The findings of the study indicate that personal competences such as emotional self-awareness and emotional assessment provided adequate information on emotional messages, however, low personal competence such as emotional trends and emotional history, procrastination management, emotional history management and family management limit the appropriate application of emotional intelligence. The findings accumulated from this study further indicate that social competences such as social emotional management, social assertiveness, people management, teamwork, empathy, selective relationships, aggressive communication, emotional history and self-disconnection can be linked with the successful application of emotional intelligence. Furthermore, the participants had a stronger bond and loyalty towards trade unions more than towards the university government and perceived the union as sources of group-coping strategies, athough individually lecturers strived to use emotional resilience and spiritual resilience to cope with the challenges.
I concluded the study by developing an emotional intelligence model for tertiary education lecturers. Without the use of emotional intelligence, lecturers might battle to continue to find solutions. Higher education systems, researchers and policy makers may use the model to develop, strengthen and enhance lecturers emotional intelligence. The model proposes establishment of an emotional intelligence center to ensure that all emotional content, systems embracing the focus on the lecturer, application and external environment to be connected to ways to advance and promote emotional intelligence for lecturers.