BACKGROUND : The development of the emotional intelligence of leaders has become an
exceptionally popular enterprise. However, the empirical research conducted by practitioners
to date does not provide convincing evidence of the effectiveness of emotional intelligence
development interventions. Robust and informative research on the effectiveness of coaching
to develop the emotional intelligence of leaders is lacking.
AIM : The purpose of this study was to determine, describe and evaluate the impact of a
theoretically substantiated coaching intervention on the emotional and social intelligence
competencies of leaders in a financial services company.
Setting: The setting of the study is a financial services company in South Africa.
METHODS : A mixed method approach using a quantitative and qualitative research design was
considered appropriate. The quantitative research method consisted of a quasi-experimental
design using a non-equivalent pre- and post test control group to measure the impact of the
coaching intervention on a sample of 30 leaders. The Bar-On EQ-i scale was selected as a
reliable and valid measure of emotional and social intelligence competencies. Wilcoxon’s
statistic was calculated to determine the statistical significance of score differences between
the experimental (N = 30) and control (N = 30) groups. The qualitative research method was
comprised of semi-structured interviews with six of the leaders and their supervisors.
RESULTS : The statistical results indicated that coaching significantly impacted the emotional
and social intelligence competencies of leaders in terms of their overall emotional quotient
(EQ), intrapersonal competency, interpersonal skills, stress management, self-regard and
empathy. The semi-structured interviews provided rich descriptive themes and evaluations
that corroborated the quantitative findings.
CONCLUSION : This research provided convincing empirical evidence of the positive impact of a long-term, spaced and goal-focused coaching intervention on the emotional and social
intelligence competencies of leaders in a financial services institution. The finding suggests
that a theoretically well substantiated coaching intervention and a robust empirical study can
be effective in demonstrating the impact of coaching on the emotional and social intelligence
competencies of leaders. However, the implications of the limitations pointed out in this study
could have influenced the findings, and future research aimed at improving relevant research
models should take these into account.