Aim To establish a synthesis of the literature on the theoretical and empirical basis of emotional intelligence and it’s linkage to nurse leadership, focusing on subjective well-being and professional development.
Background Emotional intelligence has been acknowledged in the literature as supporting nurse leadership that fosters a healthy work environment, creating inspiring relationships based on mutual trust. Nurse leaders who exhibit characteristics of emotional intelligence enhance organizational, staff and patient outcomes.
Method A literature search was undertaken using international data bases covering the period January 1997 to December 2007. Eighteen articles were included in this integrative review and were thoroughly reviewed by both authors.
Results Emotional intelligence was associated with positive empowerment processes as well as positive organizational outcomes.
Conclusion Emotionally intelligent nurse leadership characterized by self-awareness and supervisory skills highlights positive empowerment processes, creating a favourable work climate characterized by resilience, innovation and change.
Implications for nursing management Emotional intelligence cannot be considered a general panacea, but it may offer new ways of thinking and being for nurse leaders, as it takes the intelligence of feelings more seriously by continually reflecting, evaluating and improving leadership and supervisory skills.