Interesting, understandable and practical research from San Diego Organizational Psychology graduate Dr. Jennifer Konkin

The Leadership Study is a series of research studies starting with Jennifer Konkin’s doctoral dissertation at Alliant International University. The dissertation was designed to explore how cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, and adjustment predict managerial job performance when moderated by emotional labor. Past research (i.e., Schmidt & Hunter, 1998) has demonstrated that cognitive ability is the best predictor of job performance and accounts for 25% of the variance in performance. However, these findings were primarily based on samples of students and individual contributor employees. Current understandings of the substrates of managerial performance are heavily based on research conducted with individual contributors and university students. The primary research question of this study was to investigate whether interpersonal skills such as emotional intelligence and adjustment are more predictive of job performance in managerial positions than cognitive ability. One hundred and sixty one managers participated in this applied research from 37 companies across the United States. Each manager completed four assessments for data collection and a leadership development coaching session based on the results of the assessments was offered to each leader for participating in the study.

Results indicated the hypotheses were not supported — that is, emotional intelligence, adjustment and cognitive ability did not predict managerial performance. Nor was there a significant moderating effect of emotional labor. Interestingly, direct effects were present between emotional labor and performance accounting for 6% of managerial performance. ANOVA confirmed that cases in the data set were non-independent, which is that the company the participant was recruited from varied significantly with performance and predicted 41.6% of the variance of performance. The implication of the identified company effect is the possible need to consider cultural or environmental factors when considering studies into managerial performance and that while the effect size is smaller, the direct effect between emotional labor may require further investigation to better understand the nature of this relationship.

Dr. Konkin continued The Leadership Study with post-graduate research into leadership competencies that predict performance. Leaders completed a competency-based 360 degree assessment, where their workplace colleagues completed ratings on both leadership competencies as well as performance. Leaders were at minimum a manager in hierarchical level, most were considered executives. Ratings of over 2,200 feedback providers revealed that the four leadership competencies of decision-making, influence, execution, and results orientation account for 57.6% of managerial performance. This research resulted in the publication of the Leadership Dashboard Assessments now available to practitioners as a leadership development tool to guide development.

Dr. Konkin continues The Leadership Study with executive interviews focused on investigating the nature of potential culture and environmental factors that may further impact managerial performance. Further understanding the factors impacting managerial performance may enhance our understanding of how to develop impactful leaders.