Emotional Intelligence, Physician Leadership and Decision-Making within the Clinical Organization


  • James Hess Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM)
  • Bavette Miller OSU Center for Health Sciences


Physician Leadership, emotional intelligence, clinical leadership, decision making


Physicians leading clinical organizations function as the managers of knowledge-based entities, creating and implementing solutions to complex problems in ever-changing circumstances. The physician leader is faced with the sometimes overwhelming responsibility of delivering the best possible decision to achieve or further the mission of the clinical entity. The ability of clinical organizations to contemplate, evaluate and implement quality decisions is dependent upon a multitude of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. While the management of extrinsic variables may be more difficult to control, the identification and management of human variables such as emotion is pivotal in the effort to increase the quality of decisions and decision-making processes within the clinical enterprise. The purpose of this paper is to provide practical guidance to physicians in the application of emotional intelligence skills within the clinical leadership setting to improve decisions and decision-making processes. Goleman’s (2001) and Boyatzis’ et al. (2000) four essential elements of emotional intelligence as well as their associated 20 behavioral competencies were utilized to develop a methodology for the practical application of emotional intelligence skills to physician leadership and decision-making within the clinical organization. The authors developed a series of assessment questions and observations for applying each of the behavioral competencies associated with emotional intelligence to decision-making with the clinical department.


Bar-On, R. (2006). The Bar-On model of emotional social intelligence (ESI). Psicothema, Vol. 18 supl., pp. 13-25.

Bazerman, M. and Malhorta, D. (2006). It’s not intuitive: strategies for negotiating more rationally. Negotiation, Vol 9. No. 5.

Boyatzis, R., Goleman, D., and Rhee, K. (2000). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In R. Bar-On & J.D.A. Parker (eds.): Handbook of Emotional Intelligence, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

Bradberry, T. and Greaves, J. (2003). The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook. Talentsmart, San Diego, California.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books: New York, New York.

Goleman, D. (1998). What makes a leader. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76 No. 6, pp. 93-102.

Goleman, D., (2001). Emotional intelligence: perspectives on a theory of performance. In C. Chermiss & D. Goleman (eds.): The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, California.

Huy, Quy N. (1999). Emotional capability, emotional intelligence and radical change. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 325-345.

Mayer, J, and Caruso, D. (2002). The effective leader: understanding and applying emotional intelligence. Ivey Business Journal, November-December, Reprint # 9B02TF10 pp. 1-5.

Mayer, J.D., Salovey, P. and Caruso, D.R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: new ability or eclectic traits. American Psychologist, Vol. 63 No. 6, pp. 503-517.

Mellers, B.A., Schwartz, A. and Ritov, I. (1999). Emotion-based choice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 128, pp. 1-14.

Milkman, K.L., Chugh, D. and Bazerman, M. (2008). How can decision making be improved? Working Paper – Harvard Business School, Retrieved from: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/08-102.pdf, (last accessed July 10, 2017).

Miller, E.G. (2009). Understanding emotional reactions for negative services: the impact of efficacy beliefs and stage in process. Journal of Service Research, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 87-89.

O’Neil, J. (1996). On emotional intelligence: a conversation with Daniel Goleman. Educational Leadership, 54:6-11.

Payne, W.L. (1983/1986). A study of emotion: developing emotional intelligence; self integration; relating to fear, pain and desire. Dissertation Abstracts International, Vol. 47, p.203A (University microfilms No. AAC 8605928.

Petrides, K.V., Pita, R. and Kokkinaki, F. (2007). The location of trait emotional intelligence in personality factor space. British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 98, pp. 273-289.

Salovey, P. and Grewal, D. (2005). The science of emotional intelligence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 14, pp. 281-285.

Salovey, P. and Mayer, J. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol. 9, pp. 185-211.

Sevdalis, Nick, Petrides, K.V. and Harvey, Nigel (2007). Trait emotional intelligence and decision related emotions. Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 42, pp. 1347-1358.

Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, Warren F. (1958, 1973). How to choose a leadership pattern. Harvard Business Review, May-June, pp.162-180.

Thorndike, R.K. (1920). Intelligence and its uses. Harpers Magazine, Vol 140, pp. 227-235.

Tichy, N. and Devanna, M. (1986). Transformational Leaders. John Wiley and Sons: New York.

Tsai, Ming-Hong and Young, Maia J. (2009). Anger, fear and escalation of commitmentâ€, Cognition and Emotion – Online Version, Retrieved from: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a913264339, (last accessed July 10, 2017).

Winter, K.A. and Kuiper, N.A. (1997). Individual differences in the experience of emotions. Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 17, pp. 791-821.






Healthcare Administration