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Does emotional intelligence and empowering leadership affect psychological empowerment and

work engagement?

Saad M. Alotaibi

Department of Management, College of Business Administration, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Muslim Amin

School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia, and

Jonathan Winterton

Work and Employment Relations Division, Leeds University Business School, Leeds, UK


PurposeThe objective of this study is to investigate the role of emotional intelligence and empowering leadership in enhancing psychological empowerment and work engagement in private hospitals.

Design/methodology/approachA total of 500 questionnaires were distributed to staff nurses at five private hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 100 questionnaires to each hospital, with an achieved response rate of 34.8%.

FindingsThe results show statistically significant positive relationships between emotional intelligence, empowering leadership, psychological empowerment and work engagement. The relationship between emotional intelligence and work engagement and psychological empowerment and work engagement were not significant.

Research limitations/implicationsThe study found that employees who have a high level of emotional intelligence and the positive stimulus of empowering leadership demonstrate enhanced psychological empowerment and work engagement.

Practical implicationsA better understanding of the role of EI and EL in enhancing psychological empowerment and work engagement could help hospitals reduce turnover among nurses and improve their relationships with patients, as well as maintaining competitive advantage.

Originality/valueThe study provides evidence to support the effect of EI on empowering leadership, psychological empowerment and work engagement in private hospitals.

KeywordsEmotional intelligence, Empowering leadership, Psychological empowerment, Work engagement, Nurse, Hospital

Paper typeResearch paper

For more than three decades, leadership theory has mostly been applied across industries characterized by top-down bureaucratic systems (Aminet al., 2014;Uhl-Bienet al., 2007,Uhl-Bien et al., 2011). Researchers have suggested that organizations should move away from hierarchical approaches to empower employees (Fong and Snape, 2015;Zhouet al., 2018). Leadership roles are becoming more challenging, with leaders expected to display emotional intelligence (EI) in handling themselves and their employees (Huret al., 2011;Liet al., 2016). Successful leaders manage their own emotions effectively and recognize the managing employees involves emotional processes, so EI is a prerequisite for successful leadership (Goleman, 1998;Goleman, 2004; Miaoet al., 2018). Emotionally intelligent leaders are more committed to their work and perform better in the workplace (Castillo and Valle, 2017;Føllesdal and Hagtvet, 2013;

Emotional intelligence, empowering leadership 971

The authors extend their appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University and the Research Center at the College of Business Administration for supporting this work.

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:


Received 27 July 2020 Revised 3 August 2020 Accepted 3 August 2020

Leadership & Organization Development Journal Vol. 41 No. 8, 2020 pp. 971-991

© Emerald Publishing Limited 0143-7739 DOI10.1108/LODJ-07-2020-0313


Gardner and Stough, 2002) compared with leaders having a lower level of EI (Hui-Wenet al., 2010;Watkin, 2000). In the hospital sector, Wang et al. (2018)emphasized the significant contribution of EI in the relationship between a nurse manager’s leadership and a nurse’s intention to stay. Nurses with a high level of EI exhibit higher work performance (Chenet al., 2015) and occupational well-being (Yanet al., 2018).Heffernanet al. (2010)showed nurses’ emotions play a dominant role in their relationships with patients and families.

Previous research has demonstrated that leaders’emotional intelligence and competencies are significantly associated with developing empowering work environments for nurses (Grecoet al., 2006;Lucaset al., 2008), leadership success (Barling et al., 2000;Brown and Moshavi, 2005), work engagement (Yanet al., 2018) and nurses’turnover intentions (Daderman and Basinska, 2016). In this context, nurse leaders are playing a significant role in facilitating nurses’performance, hospital aims and patient outcomes. Empowering leadership (EL) occurs when nurses recognize that they are empowered (Lucaset al., 2008), and EL will provide employees with greater autonomy and a supportive working environment (Cummingset al., 2010;Kim and Beehr, 2018;Kimet al., 2018;Liet al., 2016). There is strong evidence of a trickle- down effect of EL leading to positive outcomes for employees (Byunet al., 2020).

From this standpoint, we posit that EI and EL will play an important part in increasing psychological empowerment and work engagement. Previous studies have confirmed that work engagement is critical in the hospital context because of nurse shortages and rising health care costs (Aboshaiqahet al., 2016;Caoet al., 2019;Faulkner and Laschinger, 2008;

Liet al., 2020). Since EI and EL play a substantial role for nurses in modern hospitals, research on this topic in developing countries has been encouraged (Chenet al., 2015,Yanet al., 2018).

Thus far, however, relatively little attention has been paid to the roles of EI and EL in enhancing psychological empowerment and work engagement in the hospital sector, especially in Saudi Arabia, a lacuna which this study attempts to address. A better understanding of the role of EI and EL in enhancing psychological empowerment and work engagement could help hospitals reduce turnover among nurses and improve their relationships with patients, as well as maintaining competitive advantage.

Theory and hypotheses Emotional intelligence (EI)

EI has been defined across industries and countries and is considered a key indicator for successful leadership (Barreiro and Treglown, 2020;Chenet al., 2015;Goleman, 2004), helping leaders to deal effectively with their own emotions as well as those of subordinates (Liet al., 2016;Peterson and Luthans, 2003). Although EI has been variously defined (Meisler, 2014), perhaps the most widely accepted is that proposed bySalovey and Mayer (1990), who defined EI as the“ability to monitor one’s own and others’feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”. Adopting that definition of EI,Wong and Law (2002)developed an EI scale termed WLEIS, associated with the four dimensions of EI: OEA (others’emotion appraisal); SEA (self-emotion appraisal);

UOE (use of emotion) and ROE (regulation of emotion). OEA refers to a person’s ability to perceive and understand the emotions of those around them. SEA describes an individual’s ability to understand his/her deep emotions and to express these emotions naturally. ROE relates to a person’s ability to regulate his/her emotions, which enables faster recovery from psychological distress. UOE identifies a person’s ability to make use of his/her emotions by directing them toward constructive activities and personal performance (Huret al., 2011;

Wong and Law, 2002;Yanet al., 2018). In the hospital sector,Yanet al.(2018)adopted the WLEIS constructs developed byWong and Law (2002)and conducted a study of clinical nurses from two hospitals in China, defining EI as an ability to perceive accurately, appraise and express emotion and to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

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Although there have been extensive debates over defining EI and its constructs (Cavazotte et al., 2012;Rajahet al., 2011), most scholars have adapted the measures ofSalovey and Mayer (1990)in empirical work. The current study similarly measures EI using multidimensional constructs based onWong and Law (2002)referring to an individual’s ability successfully to perceive, express, understand and evaluate his/her own and others’emotions (Lapalmeet al., 2016;Mayeret al., 2004;Rajahet al., 2011;Wong and Law, 2002;Yanet al., 2018).

Empowering leadership (EL)

Empowerment has been studied in the field of organization from two aspects: structural and psychological (Jianget al., 2016;Spreitzer, 1996;Van Assen, 2020). Structural empowerment emphasizes the structural context of empowerment, providing employees with opportunities to share formal authority (Conger and Kanungo, 1988;Jianget al., 2016). In this definition, empowering leaders will share information to enable subordinates to participate in the decision-making process (Besteret al., 2015), providing them with power and responsibility, whilst encouraging accountability (Arnoldet al., 2000) and actively encouraging and enabling followers to lead themselves (Albrecht and Andreetta, 2011). EL also provides greater decision-making autonomy to employees, who as a result feel their jobs are valued, which increases self-efficacy and self-esteem (Liet al., 2016;Zhouet al., 2018). In addition,Konczak et al. (2000)defined EL as a multidimensional construct with six dimensions: authority;

accountability; self-directed decision-making; information sharing; skill development and coaching for innovative performance. Delegating authority to employees (De Klerk and Stander, 2014; Hakimiet al., 2010) means giving employees full authority for decisions normally made at management level, with an expectation that freedom to work autonomously implies accountability for results (Ford and Fottler, 1995). Self-directed decision making, by contrast, empowers employees to solve problems and make decisions independently which requires extensive information sharing (Van Dierendonck and Dijkstra, 2012), training support and coaching (De Klerk and Stander, 2014). Such autonomy plays a key role in high involvement work (Boxall and Winterton, 2018;Boxallet al., 2019). In this study we view EL as distinct from psychological empowerment and emphasize interpersonal relationships between leaders and employees based on multidimensional constructs developed byKonczaket al.(2000). These perspectives are at the structural level and focus on organizational and managerial practices to empower employees at lower organizational levels.

Psychological empowerment

Psychological empowerment is another aspect of EL theory (Amoret al., 2020;Thomas and Velthouse, 1990), which Spreitzer (1995) described as an individual’s experience of the motivation process, enhancing their self-efficacy at work. In this definition, empowerment is a psychological state involving four dimensions: meaning, competence, self-determination and impact (Spreitzer, 1995). Meaning refers to an employee feeling personally important and fit for their job. Competence describes self-efficacy in being able to perform tasks successfully.

Self-determination postulates the freedom to select a task. Meanwhile, impact is specified by a diverse range of outcomes (Kwak and Jackson, 2015;Zhang and Bartol, 2010). High levels of competence will increase a sense of confidence in performing job tasks (De Klerk and Stander, 2014;Dewettinck and Van Ameijde, 2011). A high degree of self-determination will have a significant influence both at the individual and organizational levels (De Klerk and Stander, 2014). In addition, MacPheeet al.(2014)argued that a psychological perspective defines empowerment as a self-motivating factor that reflects individual beliefs on personal relationships and in particular a set of perceptions that emphasizes a motivational aspect of self-competence or self-efficacy, including the perception of personal control (Khuntiaet al., 2017;Menget al., 2016;Spreitzer, 1995).







Work engagement

Schaufeliet al.(2002)describe work engagement as a positive work-related state of mind, conceptualizing this through three constructs: vigour; dedication and absorption. Vigour refers to a high level of energy and cognitive resilience while working, the willingness to invest discretionary effort and persistence in the face of difficult situations. Dedication describes experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride and challenge while working. Absorption refers to being fully concentrated and intensely fascinated with one’s work, being deeply engrossed and not easily distracted by diversions (Eldor and Vigoda-Gadot, 2017;Schaufeliet al., 2006). From this definition,Daderman and Basinska (2016)argued that vigour and dedication establish the basis of engagement as a concept, whilst absorption is related to the concept of flow and plays a different role to other engagement dimensions. Some scholars have suggested that work-disengaged employees will demonstrate the physical appearance of withdrawal and defensiveness, resulting in behaviors that diminish time, effort, earnings and morale (Du Plessis and Boshoff, 2018).

Schaufeliet al.(2002)argue that engaged employees will put more effort into and have more energetic and effective connection with their work, producing positive outcomes at both individual and organizational levels. Engaged employees allegedly perform their work proactively (Alessandriet al., 2018;Salanova and Schaufeli, 2008), are more dynamic while working, responsive to new information and work harder (Bakker, 2014). In this respect, employee personal resources (such as self-evaluated traits associated with resiliency) play an important role in work engagement, particularly where employees have the power to make something different in their work environment (Yoo and Arnold, 2014).

Emotional intelligence, empowering leadership and psychological empowerment

Many studies have found a significant relationship between EI and EL. For example, G€orgens-Ekermans and Brand (2012) found higher EI is associated with an increased tendency to make positive evaluations of one’s work with clients. Leaders who demonstrate a high level of EI lead more effectively than do those with lower levels of EI (Katouet al., 2020;

Tanget al., 2010). In the hospital sector, Lucaset al.(2008)found nurses with access to empowering work structures also report that their managers have emotionally intelligent leadership styles. When nursing leaders have high EI, they positively establish good relationships with staff nurses and enhance the capability to manage emotions in the workplace (Cummingset al., 2010). Staff nurses who felt that their manager demonstrated good behavior and leadership experienced significantly less emotional exhaustion, with improved emotional health, working conditions and job satisfaction (Cummingset al., 2010;

Lucaset al., 2008). We therefore propose the following two hypotheses:

H1. Emotional intelligence has a positive relationship with empowering leadership.

H2. Emotional intelligence has a positive relationship with psychological empowerment.

Emotional intelligence and work engagement

Most scholars support the view that emotional intelligence will enhance work engagement.

Chenet al.(2015)confirmed that EI contributes to a positive work psychology and has a positive impact on work performance, whileWong and Law (2002)argued that EI is the most important factor influencing work engagement. In the hospital sector, Yan et al. (2018) suggest staff nurses with high EI in turn improve the occupational well-being of employees, which is consistent with the argument that people with higher levels of mindfulness have higher EI and will experience higher subjective well-being (Clearyet al., 2018;Eldor and Vigoda-Gadot, 2017;Schutte and Loi, 2014). Similarly,Sarikaya and Yegen (2017)showed that EI coefficients align with staff nurse competencies and the integration of both influences

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how nurses interact with others and their environment. This leads us to propose a third hypothesis:

H3. Emotional intelligence has a positive relationship with work engagement.

Empowering leadership, psychological empowerment and work engagement

Previous studies have demonstrated that EL is associated with psychological empowerment.

Laschinger et al. (2009) argued changes in structural empowerment lead to changes in psychological empowerment and increased nurses’ job satisfaction. Park et al. (2017) suggested that a leader with a positive leadership perspective can directly enhance employees’ psychological resources. Employees who perceive higher support from their supervisors are more likely to experience greater empowerment (Amoret al., 2020;Kwon and Kim, 2020;Spreitzer, 1996). In hospitals, the relationship between staff nurses and leaders, accessibility to other resources and a work atmosphere conducive to nurse autonomy will significantly support and improve staff nurse job satisfaction and performance, as well as retention (Andrewset al., 2012;Cowdenet al., 2011;Orgambıdez and Almeida, 2020). We therefore propose the following hypotheses:

H4. Empowering leadership has a positive relationship with psychological empowerment.

H5. Empowering leadership has a positive relationship with work engagement.

Psychological empowerment and work engagement

Many studies have found a significant relationship between psychological empowerment and work engagement. May et al. (2004) claimed that when an organization provides a harmonized workplace atmosphere with the psychological circumstances of meaningfulness (job enrichment, work–role fit), safety (supportive manager and co-workers) and availability (in terms of resources available), it is more likely to have engaged employees. Employees who are psychologically empowered are more committed to their work and organizations (Albrecht and Andreetta, 2011;Jose and Mampilly, 2015), more engaged in their organizations and exhibit lower rates of intention to quit (Bhatnagar, 2012). It has been suggested that psychological empowerment helps employees make positive changes in their roles, work units and organizations (Jose and Mampilly, 2015;Seibertet al., 2011). We therefore propose the following hypothesis:

H6. Psychological empowerment has a positive relationship with work engagement.


Data collection process

The study involved 500 questionnaires distributed to staff nurses between January and April 2018 at five private hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Once the hospitals concerned granted ethical approval, managers at each hospital were asked to distribute 100 questionnaires to staff nurses who had worked full time at the hospital for at least one year. The survey yielded 174 completed questionnaires (34.8% response rate) through employing purposive sampling to distribute questionnaires.

Measurement scales

Four dimensions of EI developed byWong and Law (2002), also known as WLEIS, were used to measure EI among staff nurses. These four dimensions are: OEA (others’ emotion appraisal); SEA (self-emotion appraisal): UOE (use of emotion) and ROE (regulation of







emotion) (Yan et al., 2018). Each item was rated using seven-point scale ranging from“1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)”. A multidimensional construct of EL developed by Konczaket al.(2000)was used to measure EL among staff nurses. This construct comprises six dimensions: authority; accountability; self-directed decision-making; information sharing;

skill development and coaching for innovative performance. Each item was rated using a five- point scale ranging from“1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)”. The psychological empowerment construct was measured using four dimensions: meaning; competence; self- determination and impact, comprising 12 items adapted fromSpreitzer (1995). Each item was rated using a five-point scale ranging from“1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)”. Most scholars have adopted this scale to measure psychological empowerment among staff nurses working in hospitals (Eoet al., 2014;Menget al., 2016). For work engagement, we used the construct developed bySchaufeli et al. (2002,2006), involving three dimensions: vigour;

dedication and absorption, which is consistent with other studies conducted among staff nurses (Eoet al., 2014;Yanet al., 2018). Work engagement was measured by a six-point scale rating ranging from“6 (always) to 0 (never)”.

Data analysis and results Measurement model

Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) is a commonly used method in management research and provides a robust way of analyzing survey data (Hairet al., 2017a).

To assure construct validity, we assessed both sub-categories of convergent validity (the degree to which multiple items used to measure the same concept are related) and discriminant validity (the degree to which items differ between constructs or measure distinct concepts). We assessed convergent validity using factor loadings, composite reliability (CR) and average variance extracted (AVE) (Hairet al., 2017a).Table 1shows the factor loadings for each construct ranged from 0.675 to 0.979, composite reliability (CR) range from 0.897 to 0.976 and average variance extracted (AVE) range from 0.680 to 0.930, exceeding the recommended level of 0.50 (Chin, 1998a) and confirming convergent validity for each construct (Hairet al., 2017a).Table 2shows the discriminant validity of each construct using the approach developed byFornell and Larcker (1981). Discriminant validity is assessed by comparing the AVE with the squared correlations or comparing the square root of the AVE with the correlations. Because the square root of the AVE between each pair of factors is higher than the correlation estimated between factors, this indicates that the measures used in this study are distinct and demonstrate adequate discriminant validity (Bagozzi and Yi, 1988).

Structural equation modelling

To test the structural model and hypotheses, we used SmartPLS 3.0 (Ringleet al., 2014), calculating the path coefficient (β) and coefficient of determination (R2), effect size (f2) and predictive relevance (Q2) to evaluate the predictive power of the structural model. The path coefficient indicates the estimated change in the endogenous construct from a unit change in the exogenous construct (Hairet al., 2017a,2017b).R2 indicates the amount of variance explained by the exogenous variables, where the closer the coefficient value is to 1, the higher the level of predictive accuracy (Chin, 1998b;Chinet al., 2008;Henseler and Chin, 2010). Effect size (f2) is calculated to assess how much a predicting (exogenous) construct contributes to an endogenous latent construct, where effect size values are interpreted as small (0.02), medium (0.15) or large (0.35) (Cohen, 1988). Predictive relevance (Q2) measures the extent to which a specific exogenous construct can be accurately predicted by an endogenous construct.Q2 will show how well the data collected empirically can be reconstructed with the PLS

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First-Order construct


construct Items Loadings α CR AVE

SEA (self-emotion appraisal)

SEA1 0.880 0.882 0.919 0.739

SEA2 0.870

SEA3 0.882

SEA4 0.804

OEA (others emotion appraisal)

OEA1 0.860 0.926 0.947 0.818

OEA2 0.912

OEA3 0.913

OEA4 0.932

UOE (use of emotion) UOE1 0.914 0.928 0.949 0.822

UOE2 0.890

UOE3 0.921

UOE4 0.901

ROE (regulation of emotion)

ROE1 0.879 0.873 0.916 0.735

ROE2 0.944

ROE3 0.905

ROE4 0.675

Emotional intelligence

SEA 0.920 0.968 0.971 0.680

OEA 0.926

UOE 0.941

ROE 0.955

Authority DA1 0.950 0.963 0.976 0.930

DA2 0.979

DA3 0.965

Accountability ACC 1 0.953 0.920 0.949 0.862

ACC 2 0.962

ACC 3 0.867

Self-directed decision making

SDM1 0.872 0.829 0.899 0.749

SDM2 0.945

SDM3 0.770

Information sharing IS1 0.965 0.925 0.964 0.930

IS2 0.964

Skill development SD1 0.790 0.855 0.908 0.767

SD2 0.937

SD3 0.894

Coaching CIP1 0.927 0.891 0.932 0.821

CIP2 0.956

CIP3 0.830

Empowering leadership

Authority 0.676 0.954 0.960 0.596

Accountability 0.910 Self-directed decision- making

0.940 Information sharing 0.924 Skill development 0.776

Coaching 0.872

Meaning ME1 0.859 0.895 0.935 0.827

ME2 0.946

ME3 0.920


Table 1.

Result of measurement model, reliability and validity







parameters. Based on blindfolding procedures,Q2 evaluates the predictive validity of a large complex model using PLS. If Q2 values are greater than zero, this indicates that the endogenous constructs have satisfactory predictive relevance (Chinet al., 2008;Hairet al., 2017b). A bootstrapping technique was applied with a re-sampling of 5,000, and path estimates andt-statistics were calculated to examine the hypothesized relationships.

Table 3and Figure 1show the structural model analysis. The results show that the relationships between EI, EL, psychological empowerment and work engagement were significant (β50.772,t-value517.149;β50.398,t-value53.872;β50.548,t-value55.467), supporting hypotheses H1, H2, H4 and H5. The relationship between EI and work engagement and psychological empowerment and work engagement were not significant (β50.183,t-value51.733;β50.140,t-value51.464), so we reject hypothesesH3andH6.

The correctedR2values reported inFigure 1refer to the explanatory power of the predictor variable(s) on the respective constructs. EL explains 59.6% of EI (R50.596), psychological empowerment explains 54% of EL (R50.541) and work engagement explains 65% of EL (R50.650). The effect size (f2) value indicates that EI has a large effect on EL (1.475), a medium effect on psychological empowerment (0.140) and a small effect on work engagement

First-Order construct


construct Items Loadings α CR AVE

Competence CO1 0.971 0.940 0.962 0.893

CO2 0.949

CO3 0.914

Self-determination SDL1 0.937 0.929 0.955 0.875

SDL2 0.922

SDL3 0.947 0.827 0.897 0.744

Impact IM1 0.922

IM2 0.861

IM3 0.801

Psychological empowerment

Meaning 0.906 0.940 0.949 0.614

Competence 0.880

Self-determination 0.892

Impact 0.734

Vigor V12 0.904 0.923 0.940 0.730

V15 0.530

V17 0.828

V4 0.868

V8 0.953

VI1 0.967

Dedication DE10 0.945 0.943 0.957 0.819

DE13 0.970

DE2 0.922

DE5 0.939

DE7 0.729

Absorption AB11 0.731 0.936 0.950 0.760

AB14 0.897

AB16 0.865

AB3 0.856

AB6 0.917

AB9 0.948

Work engagement Vigor 0.915 0.965 0.970 0.666

Dedication 0.949

Absorption 0.944

Table 1.

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ConstructsABSACCAUTCOACOMDEDIMPINSMEAOEAROESEASEDSDMSKDUOEVIG Absorption (ABS)0.872 Accountability (ACC)0.6680.929 Authority (AUT)0.4360.5000.965 Coaching(COA)0.6650.7060.5870.906 Competency (COM)0.5390.4540.4180.5860.945 Dedication (DED)0.8740.6770.4750.6210.4250.905 Impact(IMP)0.4870.5310.4230.4310.5200.5210.863 Information sharing(INS)0.7010.8630.5030.7380.4980.6430.4810.964 Meaning(MEA)0.6070.5940.5480.6970.7130.4900.5990.5850.909 OEA0.6910.7910.5920.7790.5970.6920.5710.7660.6160.905 ROE0.6830.7080.5710.7890.5930.6470.5160.6700.6330.8690.857 SEA0.5080.6230.4340.6210.4890.4700.4660.5340.5430.7640.8470.859 Self- determination (SED)

0.5300.4850.5380.7180.7330.4710.5060.4750.7650.6050.6510.5140.935 Self-directed (SDM)0.6860.8640.5380.7760.4690.6200.4710.8910.6640.7630.7020.5760.5030.865 Skill development (SKD) 0.5030.6730.3140.6070.2860.3770.3420.7320.4230.5460.4320.3870.2760.7170.876 UOE0.5520.5710.4610.6380.5410.4960.4680.5440.5110.8110.8610.8530.5410.5760.3940.907 Vigor(VIG)0.7720.8110.5030.6920.5140.7980.5550.7980.6140.7870.6830.5760.4740.7710.4860.5410.855

Table 2.

Discriminant validity







(0.034). EL has a medium effect on psychological empowerment (0.129) and a large effect on work engagement (0.307), while psychological empowerment has a small effect on work engagement (0.026). TheQ2 values indicate that endogenous constructs (EL50.328 > 0;

PE50.307 > 0; WE50.400 > 0) have acceptable predictive relevance, which is indicative of a highly predictive model.

Discussion and implications Theoretical implications

This study has two principal theoretical implications. First, it suggests that EI is an important predictor of EL and psychological empowerment, while EL supports work engagement.

Second, the study finds employees with high EI and stimulated by the EL experience enhanced psychological empowerment and work engagement. More importantly, employees with higher levels of EI will more successfully build interpersonal relationships with other staff and gain more support from those with whom they build a relationship (Huret al., 2011;

Yanet al., 2018). AsErkutlu and Chafra (2012)argued, leaders who possess high levels of EI are better equipped to fulfill the needs of staff nurses and patients, take an active interest in them and respond to changes in their emotional states. Similarly,Zhuet al. (2015)found nurses with high levels of EI have a better perception of EL and provide high levels of work engagement. For this reason, hospitals should ensure that staff nurses develop high EI to balance the rational and emotional effectively.

Hypotheses Beta

T- statistics


values Decision H1: Emotional intelligence - > empowering leadership 0.772 17.149 0.000 Supported H2: Emotional intelligence - > psychological empowerment 0.398 3.872 0.000 Supported H3: Emotional intelligence - > work engagement 0.183 1.733 0.084 Not supported H4: Empowering leadership - > psychological


0.383 3.668 0.000 Supported H5: Empowering leadership - > work engagement 0.548 5.067 0.000 Supported H6: Psychological empowerment - > work engagement 0.140 1.464 0.144 Not supported Note(s): Significant atp< 0.05

Table 3.

Structural model

Figure 1.

Structural model

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Managerial implications

The results of this study provide useful insights for managerial and business practice in the hospital sector. EI and EL play an important role in enhancing psychological empowerment and EL in fostering work engagement. For this reason, hospital managers should provide training and development to build staff nurses’EI and EL, empowering them to support their nursing teams. For a nurse with underdeveloped interpersonal and empathy skills, workplace training to develop EI is crucial. The successful EI training develops nurses’ positive attitudes and adaptability, leading to improved relationships among nurses and with patients (Zhuet al., 2015). Most importantly, nurses felt empowered, and nurse leaders demonstrated their management skills in building relationships. This research adds to the evidence that empowering work conditions provide a personal sense of empowerment through autonomy, confidence and meaningfulness, which have positive organizational impacts (Lucaset al., 2008). AsFaulkner and Laschinger (2008)argued, staff nurses who have more access to empowering structures also have positive attitudes toward their work, feeling personal empowerment and respect. Similarly,Zhanget al.(2018)suggested that employees who perceive higher levels of empowerment are more likely to build robust credential motivation to achieve better engagement in their workplace. Nurse managers have a major influence on workplace cultures (Newmanet al., 2015), so they need access to development programmes focusing on their EI and EL skills (Crowneet al., 2017). A strong leadership support and a training programme will improve emotional identification and emotion management abilities among staff nurses trained in EI and EL (Crowneet al., 2017;

Davieset al., 2010).

Systematic training programmes and strategies for enhancing nursing management and leadership competencies are important in helping nurses understand their own and others’ emotions, increasing social competencies and reducing turnover intentions (Aboshaiqah et al., 2016). Training to develop EI presents a number of challenges (Clarke, 2006a), although team-based learning has produced promising results (Clarke, 2010). EI training has been effectively developed in nursing through reflection on practice (Akerjodet and Severinsson, 2004) and workplace learning initiatives (Clarke, 2006b). There is evidence that EI training can contribute to developing meaningfulness at work (Thory, 2016), and on balance most studies show a positive influence on reducing stress at work (Mattingly and Kraiger, 2019).

Limitations and future research

There are limitations to the extent that one might generalize the findings beyond the study context of private hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Expanding the research to public hospitals, other sectors and other countries would make it possible to explore whether relationships found between EI, EL and psychological empowerment and work engagement are context-specific or more generic in nature.

Future research could also explore which elements of EI and EL affect psychological empowerment and work engagement, and which have most effect. There is also value in incorporating other variables, such as employee commitment as an independent variable and turnover intentions or other employee outcomes as dependent variables. The positive impact of EI on EL and of each on psychological empowerment appears to be unambiguously beneficial for employees, but the findings are less clear with respect to work engagement. It would therefore be of value in exploring the extent to which work engagement is perceived to be beneficial by employees given its association with work intensification (Trusset al., 2013) and its potential to undermine collective representation (Townsendet al., 2014).








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