The Impact of Emotional Intelligence Development on Nurse Managers

by Nursetopia on July 8, 2011

The Article: Codier, E., Kamikawa, C., & Kooker, B. (2011). The impact of emotional intelligence development on nurse managers. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 35(3): 270-276.

Big Idea: Emotional intelligence (EI) has been studied extensively throughout numerous professions – including nursing – over the last 20 years. EI is the ability to identify and manage the emotions of yourself and others, and it has been linked to high leaderships skills and improved management and care outcomes via literally hundreds of studies. This study examines six months of peer-to-peer coaching as an effective strategy to increase the EI scores of 15 nurse managers within a Hawaii tertiary care facility. The nurses managers received coaching education, and the peer-to-peer coaching sessions consisted mostly of conversations and reflection, or “thinking out loud,” rather than advice-giving.

Survey Says!: Participating nurse managers reported they felt the regular peer-to-peer coaching and discussions improved both their management and EI skills. However, quantitative results actually showed nurse managers’ EI scores decreased during the intervention time period. The nurse managers all expressed extremely high levels of exhaustion and burnout symptoms during the intervention time, as well, as they endured Magnet accreditation and three unannounced surveys – including JCAHO – within three months of one another. Interestingly, the authors point out EI skills should actually increase over time and age, but the same is not true for nurses. The literature shows EI skills and scores lower during periods of burnout, thus reiterating nurses’ extremely high rates of burnout and emotional fatigue as the reason for decreased EI skills.

Quotable: “Across the first 10 years of EI nursing research, interest in EI as a core competency in nursing has increased [reference]. Positive correlations have been demonstrated between levels of measured EI abilities and performance, personal achievement, organizational citizenship, job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and improved retention. Nurse leader EI scores have been correlated with improved patient outcomes, physician, nurse, and patient satisfaction, reduced staff turnover, and increased staff resilience during periods of change. Retention, coping, wellness, stress management, and job satisfaction have all correlated with measured EI [references]” (p. 271).

So What?: EI abilities have been shown over and over again to impact numerous outcomes. Nurse managers’ EI skills should be assessed during the hiring process, and enhancing nurse managers’ EI skills via inexpensive peer-to-peer coaching may lead to improved management skills, which ultimately impact bedside nurses and patient care.