An Exploration into the role of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership Styles of Educational Supervision in Saudi Arabia.

An Exploration into the role of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership Styles of Educational Supervision in Saudi Arabia

Challenging the using of Emotional intelligence on a Saudi context of Educational Supervision


• To explore how educational supervisors make use of emotional intelligence in their leadership and supervisory relationships.

• To establish the relationship between leadership styles and specific aspects of emotional intelligence employed by the Directors.

• To understand how increased awareness of emotional intelligence might enhance supervisory practices that contribute to national and international understandings of leadership in S.A.

• To identify the role that gender plays in influencing the level of Emotional intelligence exhibited by the Directors.


Through exploring the relationship between leadership styles and the emotional intelligence of Educational Supervisors, this study will critically evaluate whether the claim that emotional intelligence plays a significant role in effective leadership is true (Palmer et al, 2001). This study therefore seeks to establish the ways in which Emotional Intelligence is conceptualised and the relationship between leadership styles and the emotional intelligence of supervisors. In this regard, it will examine how the supervisors use specific aspects of emotional intelligence to lead and establish the connections between their use of emotional intelligence and their leadership styles. It will further look into the role that gender plays in influencing the level of engagement with emotional intelligence as a strategy in leadership exhibited by supervisors. This study will therefore add to the existing research studies that have investigated the relationship between leadership and emotional intelligence (Antonakis et al, 2009; Kerr et al 2006; Sunindijo et al 2007). Few studies have been conducted in S.A on this topic therefore this study will provide invaluable insight on the relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership styles within the context of the Saudi education system.

Educational supervision as a practice was first introduced in S.A in the 1920’s as part of educational reforms geared towards improving school outcomes. Since then, there have been significant developments and changes prompted by government agendas and policies that aim at enhancing development in S.A. In 1957, the Ministry of Education instituted the Office of Educational Supervision to facilitate effective management of schools (Abdul-Kareem 2001). The roles performed by supervisors such as; inspecting teacher’s work, providing guidance and support to teachers on how they can improve school outcomes (Ministry of Education 1999).

Despite of the establishment of supervision office in order to improve teacher’s practice and overall school outcomes, there have been concerns that the office has not been effective in its mandate. A study by Abdulkareem (2014) depicted that supervisory leadership of supervisors has not been effective and has been marred by poor and autocratic leadership practices such as stringent inspection, commanding and judging. Consequently, problems such as tension and lack of mutual trust between supervisors and teachers and poor staff development continue to permeate supervision in Saudi schools. Therefore, there is need to improve leadership in order to enhance positive school outcomes. As a system that is still being re-established, emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept within the Saudi education system that is yet to be examined in-depth and embraced particularly in the realm of educational leadership. Its recognition and adoption may improve leadership practices among supervisors and contribute to national and international understandings of leadership in S.A. (Palmer et al, 2001).

Theoretical Framework
Emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept in S.A. Over the years, many studies on emotional intelligence that have examined this concept in different cultural and educational contexts (particularly in Western cultures) (Barbutoa & Burbacha 2006; Chan 2004). Very few studies have looked into how this model is manifested in S.A. However, in recent times there has been increasing interest on emotional intelligence particularly how it relates to educational leadership (Alghamdi 2014; Al Kahtani 2013).
This interest has been driven by the government’s reform agenda to bring the Saudi’s education system to par with other education systems around the world to facilitate economic development. Although the concept of emotional intelligence has been largely embraced in Western cultural contexts as a means for enhancing quality leadership, due to the cultural differences between Saudi and other Western cultures (such as religion, power distance and gender constructions) proper examination of this concept as it related to the Saudi culture is critical to avoid problematic results (Alghamdi 2014; Al Kahtani 2013).

Over time, a number of scholars have developed different models in a bid to provide insight on what emotional intelligence entails (Salovey, Mayer & Caruso 2004). One of the notable models was developed by Goleman (1995) who envisioned emotional intelligence as a concept that comprises of five key elements namely; self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, motivation and empathy. However this model has been criticized as being one that offers marketable solutions for self-improvement and success and adapts people emotionally solely to organisational profitability ignoring the power structures that normalize and institutionalize emotional practices (Boler, 1999).

Methodological Approach
In order to explore the relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership styles of Educational Supervision in S.A, this study will employ a qualitative interpretivist approach. This approach will focus on decoding, describing and interpreting the connection between emotional intelligence and leadership. This method will used mainly because it is suitable for addressing the objectives of this since it provides a framework for exploring research issues in-depth from a “human-side” (Merriam 2009). However, one of the limitations of this approach is that it leaves room for biases since it employs interpretative techniques to analyse the views and opinions of research participants, which might be biased or subjective in nature (Mack et al 2005).

The data collection process will take place in the Office of the Director of Supervisors in Riyadh. It will involve 4 supervisors and 20 teachers from both genders- male and female. The data collection process will encompass the triangulation of three methods namely; reflective semi-structured interviews, emotional intelligence self-assessment questionnaires and an open workshop. There are different tools used to measure emotional intelligence) (Simmons & Simmons 1997). Each of these tools will be evaluated in order to select the most suitable tool that will be used in this study. The initial process of data collection will involve the administration of a self-assessment questionnaire to the supervisors to gauge their awareness and level of emotional intelligence. Subsequently, reflective semi-structured interviews will be carried out with the supervisors to explore the connection between their leadership styles and different aspects of emotional intelligence. Lastly, an open workshop that will feature discussions on emotional intelligence and how educational supervisors make use of emotional intelligence in their leadership and supervisory relationships (Merriam 2009).

Since this study seeks to explore the role that gender plays in influencing the level of emotional intelligence, ethical issues revolving around the separation of male and female sources are likely to arise. As a result, it is important to take into account cultural complexities in relation to the issue of research participants. In order to address such issues and ensure that the findings of this study are valid and have integrity, objectivity will be maintained, bias and falsification of information will be avoided. In this case, objectivity will be maintained by discarding personal values and preconceived notions and solely focusing evidence from the data collected. The findings established will be verified before being presented. Moreover, extensive consultation with the Directors and supervisors will be also carried out in order to enhance objectivity and avoid biases (BERA 2011).

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