A Communication-centered Approach To Leadership: The Relationship Of Interpersonal Communication Competence To Transformational Leadership And Emotional Intelligence
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Communication is frequently cited as a critical component of leadership. This study takes a significant theoretical departure from that view and embraces the realm of communication as a lens through which we understand leadership. It proposes that leadership is inherently communicative. Communication is viewed as more than a technique or component of leadership, but rather the essence of leadership (Barge, 1994; Hackman & Johnson, 1991; Vickrey, 1995). Communication is almost universally included in the study of leadership (Capowski, 1994; McLean & Weitzel, 1992; Vickrey, 1995), but is not typically viewed as a foundational element or as the central process from which leadership is a component and that is the primary contribution of this paper. The objective of this dissertation is to empirically test this theoretical model. The study looks at relationships supported by the leadership research related to transformational leadership, emotional intelligence and follower outcomes. It then incorporates interpersonal communication competence into existing models to establish its relative importance in the leadership process. The critical premise is that leadership and emotion are considered unique aspects of communication. In particular, this study proposes that interpersonal communication competence is essential in the realization of effective leadership and in particular the transformational form of leadership with the interpretation, management and expression of emotion as fundamental components. Specifically, communication was hypothesized to mediate the highly supported emotional intelligence - transformational leadership relationship found in the literature and account for significant variance in follower performance and attitudes. Results did not support the hypothesized mediation. Surprisingly, the negative finding was a result of the lack of support for the highly supported relationship between transformational leadership and emotional intelligence (Ashkanasy & Tse, 2000; Bass, 2002; Barbuto & Burbach, 2006; Barling et al., 2000; Gardner & Stough, 2002; Sivanathan & Fekken, 2002). Without an established primary emotional intelligence and transformational leadership relationship, the mediation test was not warranted. Also interesting is that emotional intelligence did not show a significant relationship to interpersonal communication competence. However, interpersonal communication competence showed a strong positive relationship with transformational leadership and follower attitudes providing support for the importance of this construct.