Written by Ekoja Okewu |
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Although leaders litter the global corridors of power presently, the challenges of climate change, unemployment, conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic exposes the dearth of transformational leadership and leaders. This is because of neglect about the important roles emotional intelligence plays in the creation of transformational leadership.

The burden of this essay therefore lies in defining some terminologies, examining a case study, perusing through the history of the concept “transformational leadership”, giving some examples of transformational leaders, stating  the benefits of emotional intelligence, highlighting the relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, and proffering measures to develop the emotional intelligence of the next generation of transformational leaders.

Definition of terms

Transformational leadership is a leadership style in which leaders encourage, inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the company. This is accomplished by setting an example at the executive level through a strong sense of corporate culture, employee ownership and independence in the workplace1.

Emotional intelligence also known as “emotional quotient” is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in possible ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict2.

Case study

As I closely watched the behaviours of my teachers during my childhood days, I never knew my emotional intelligence was being developed to become a transformational leader in the near future.

Months after the Covid-19 restrictions on school closure was lifted, my mathematics teacher in primary school contacted me to offer help to some disadvantaged pupils in a rural school who had been starved of mathematical skills. I empathized with the situation and took up the herculean task of trekking for 8 kilometres daily to offer my services. Upon my arrival, a pupil of mine asked me this question. Sir, do you flog and what will be the punishment for those who failed your subject? I was disturbed by this question because many pupils dreaded mathematics and adding unnecessary punishments can dampen their spirits.  Before reacting to the question, I understood that the previous mathematics teacher was in the habit of flogging while his teaching methodology made pupils to be disinterested in the subject.

As a teacher, I see myself as a transformational leader who needs to employ the skill of emotional intelligence to change the perception of my followers. When I simply told them that I don’t flog, the smiles on their faces attested to their re-embrace of the subject.

Creatively, I used motivational talk sessions, coupled with a caring disposition to deflate their hatred for the subject. This was closely followed by the use of practical demonstration teachings, quizzes and rewardable puzzles. All these culminated in sparking their interest and boosting their performance.

Being a self-taught creative writer, I went further to pass this knowledge to my pupils through the organization of intra-school essay competitions on topical issues like corruption, insecurity, and education.

Fortunately, this effort paid off when two female pupils of mine got honourable mention awards for their essays in the 2022 TSL international essay on the topic, “How would combating inequality help in fighting climate change”. Another male pupil also won the 2022 national children’s day essay competition organized by Classic FM after reeling out his manifesto for Nigeria.

Together as a team, we have collaborated to produce a table fan, toy car, grinding engine, abacus, wind vane, and a guitar with the end-goal of promoting STEM courses.

One day while teaching, a female pupil of mine told me, she aspired to be a mathematics professor in the future because of my mentorship sessions, fresh mathematics lessons, caring disposition and practical teaching method.

In the course of the last session, teachers requested for a pay rise in their lesson fee. Being the representative for my colleagues, attempt to bribe me was made, but I rejected the offer and recommended a 4% increase for everyone.

When the 2022 session ended, a fracas between some aggrieved teachers and the proprietor almost led to the schools collapse and massive withdrawal of pupils. I determined to be neutral, pointed out the wrongs of both parties, called for a reconciliatory meeting, convinced my teaching colleagues to shun their resignation and prevented the mass withdrawal of pupils.

Furthermore, my pupils who strive to avoid stealing, swearing and insulting are gradually cultivating my exemplary lifestyle of morality.

Many colleagues of mine are now following my teaching methodology and lifestyle to mould the next generation of transformational leaders.

My employment of emotional intelligence did not only promote the schools continuity but also influenced the host community positively.


Although the practice has been on for ages, the concept started with James V. Downton in 1973 and was expanded by James Burns in 1978. By 1985, Bernard M. Bass further expanded it to include ways for measuring the success of transformational leadership. His model encourages leaders to demonstrate authentic and strong leadership with the notion that employees will be inspired to follow suit. It is applicable across multiple industries and very vital to the tech industry where innovation and agility is capable of making or marring a company1.

Examples of transformational leaders

Jesus Christ

Martin Luther King Jr.

Nelson Mandela

Henry Ford

Oprah Winfrey

Steve Jobs

Elon Musk

Barack Obama

Jeff Bezos etc.

Benefits of emotional intelligence

-It assists employees and followers to move to the next level

-Reduces stress

-Teaches people how to react to constructive criticism

-Helps people to conquer fears, doubts and insecurities

-Improves communication skills

-Enhances social skills

-Creates a positive environment

-Increases frustration tolerance

-Shows employees and followers their limits

-Helps people to deal with uncertainties

-Assist leaders to identify potential mental health risks

-Increases the sense of accountability

-Fosters better leadership

-Strengthens team cohesiveness

-Improves client service

Relationship between transformational leadership and emotional intelligence

According to the results from a leadership and emotional intelligence appraisal conducted by a team at the University of South Africa, school of Business in partnership with TalentSmartEQ, transformational leaders rely on emotional intelligence far more than other types of leaders. Even when predicting whom the next transformational leader would be, bets favour those who work to develop their emotional intelligence3.

From the historical accounts of transformational leaders, it is striking to note that these leaders struggled during their formative years but employed the skill of emotional intelligence to champion change.

Transformational leaders employ emotional intelligence to feel excited, energetic and enthusiastic, thus energizing their followers.

Emotional intelligence contributes 80% to one’s ability to understand himself and interact with others. This translates a person into a transformational leader.

Palmer et al once reported that the inspirational motivation and individualized consideration components of transformational leadership are significantly correlated with the ability to both monitor and manage emotions in oneself and others4.

Measures to develop the emotional intelligence of the next generation of transformational leaders

Firstly, parents and educators entrusted with the early development of kids should employ teaching techniques capable of developing an emotional intelligent mind-set.

It is also important to note that each generation has its strength and weakness. For the millennials, leveraging upon the use of technology and celebrities can encourage intellectual stimulation, foster individualized consideration and cultivate effective feedback taking among the next generation.

Thirdly, training the global community about inspirational motivation can help in effective vision communication and followership.

In addition, youths should idealize influence; this would help them to aspire for high standards and serve as role models for their peers.

Finally, efforts to help older members of the society unlearn negative philosophies before learning positive ones shouldn’t be neglected.


  1. -model-for-motivating-innovation.html
  4. Palmer B, Walls M, Burgess Z, Stough C. Emotional intelligence and effective leadership . Leadership Organ Dev J.2001;22:5-10


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Author: Ekoja Okewu
I am Ekoja Solomon from Nigeria. I love engaging in writeups that spur humanity into action


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