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Does Transformational Leadership mediate the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Safety Behaviour?

Ethics Approval Number: 2012/037

Student: Ben Andrews

Supervisor: Dr Graeme Ditchburn

Masters Study Completed: 2012

The objective of this study was to identify the relationship, if any, between emotional intelligence (EI) and work safety perception (WSP) and the extent to which transformational leadership (TL) mediated the relationship between these two variables. Data was collected from 105 voluntary participants from an organisation with 3856 employees based in Perth, Western Australia, operating in the field of oil and gas. They completed an online survey measuring the degree to which their supervisor demonstrated transformational leadership traits, a self-report measure of emotional intelligence and a work safety scale measuring work safety perception. The results indicated that transformational leadership mediates the relationship between emotional intelligence and work safety perception. Analysis revealed that this mediative relationship occurred through the Enabling Others to Act, Positive Affect and Safety Programs (Policies) sub-scales of the TL, EI and WSP measures respectively. Drilling down to this level revealed the importance of a key aspect of transformational leadership, namely, the empowerment of others. Interestingly, the analysis identified that Safety Programs (Policies) had the strongest relationship, whereas Positive Affect again appeared to be the sub-scale with the strongest relationship to the other variables. The influence of Enabling Others to Act was also shown in the research of Anand (2010) where it was demonstrated that the stress management, empathy and flexibility components of EI had a positive relationship with the Enabling Others to Act and that overall emotional intelligence is positively correlated with the Modelling the Way and Enabling Others to Act sub-scales of the LPI. The stress management component of the above mentioned study is particularly interesting in light of this research, as similar links were identified between Positive Affect and Enabling Others to Act, possibly suggesting that emotional resilience and coping with stress may play an integral role in safety perception and behaviour.