Emotional intelligence in public elementary school principals: Building collegial relations

Roberto Calderin, Fordham University


The notion of the importance of emotional intelligence in improving the leadership potential of school administrators continues to gain acceptance. Goleman (1995) summarizes that emotional intelligence is the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations. Moreover, it includes the ability to control impulses, delay gratification, regulate one's moods, and keep distress from swamping the ability to think, empathize, and hope. This suggests that the success of a learning organization such as a public school may be affected by the principal's emotional intelligence. A leader's ability to move a learning organization to a more secure learning place creates unprecedented emotional demands. Good school leaders know that emotions are a critical survival skill. As emotional persons, we cannot make good decisions without knowing our own feelings. Individuals with emotional intelligence are able to relate to others with compassion and empathy, have well developed social skills, and use the emotional awareness to direct their actions and behavior (Mayers & Salovey, 1990). ^ This naturalistic inquiry examined the emotional connections 5 suburban elementary school principals have established among the faculty within learning organizations with a majority minority student population. The study used naturalistic inquiry to observe and record the behaviors of building principals and their faculty within the time and context of their natural setting. The study of a complex leadership theory like emotional intelligence is best suited in small sites such as two school districts with similar demographic profiles among the students, faculties, and the principals. The study was conducted in a public elementary school environment. The researcher used methods consistent with naturalistic inquiry of human interactions such as participant observations, non-participant observations, review of archival materials, memos, interviews, and unobtrusive clues. Observations of the school communities were conducted in open space clusters and designated learning spaces such as offices, assemblies, lunchrooms, and other informal areas. Interviews with open-ended questions were conducted with research participants to understand the thinking building principals have in developing emotional connections in their collegial interactions. ^ The major findings of this study revealed that collegial relations are influenced by the emotional intelligence of the building principal, explored the role good collegial relations plays in creating an emotionally intelligent learning environment, and concluded that effective public elementary school leaders are emotionally intelligent. The ability to connect emotionally with school community members is a skill that can be developed and/or improved with increasing experience for the affective health of the learning organization. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Elementary

Recommended Citation

Roberto Calderin, "Emotional intelligence in public elementary school principals: Building collegial relations" (January 1, 2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3166562.