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Keywords:

  • emotional intelligence;
  • nursing leadership;
  • nursing workforce;
  • workplace bullying

Aim  This study aimed to explore the potential for emotionally intelligent leadership as a way to mitigate bullying behaviour within nursing workplace environments.

Background  As the body of evidence about bullying continues to grow there is an increasing need for researchers to direct their attention to developing theoretical frameworks that explain how bullying and victimization occur, and the types of strategies that may address the problem.

Evaluation  The narrative synthesis of the literature presented in this paper is forwarded as supporting the need for strengthening leadership capability, especially those capabilities associated with emotional intelligence, as a means of diminishing experienced bullying within nursing.

Key issues  Stemming from our expanding understandings about bullying is an appreciation of the range of factors within organizations that influence the occurrence of bullying, and an awareness of the need to understand the expression, experience and management of emotions in the workplace.

Conclusions  While both leadership and emotional intelligence capabilities offer real potential to mitigate bullying behaviour, disparity exits between clinical and managerial nurses toward preferred leadership styles and emotional intelligence is open to challenges towards its content validity.

Implications for nursing management  Nursing management is challenged to build upon procedural responses to bullying to include a ground up approach to leadership enhancement capability, better responses to emotions in the workplace and supporting the interpersonal and intrapersonal capabilities of the nursing workforce.