Historical perspective of emotional intelligence

For many years people have disputed the relationship between emotion and performance. Emotions can be conveyed by a variety of means including verbalizations, expressions, body language and tone of voice (Bernieri, 2001). A person who has the skills of reading these signs should be able to utilize the signals to make an accurate assessment and decision of the situation. This could then lead to better decision making and increased success in social environments (Rosenthal et al, 1979).

The concept of 'emotional intelligence' was first described as a form of social intelligence by Thorndike in the late 1920's (Thordike, 1920). In 1940, Wechsler, viewed intelligence as an effect and consider non-intellectual factors, such as personality, will influence the development of an individual's intelligence (Gardner, 1983). Furthermore, attention in social intelligence or other intelligence revitalized in 1983 when Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligence (Brualdi, 1996; Gardner, 1993; Gardner, 1995) and proposed an extensive field of differing intelligences.

In relation to this, Mayer and Salovey, (1990) coined the term EI in their article, "Emotional Intelligence," in the journal Imagination, Cognition and Personality and Goleman, (1995) brought EI to the mainstream and developed his own model of EI. Ultimately, the concept of EI has been expanded and applicable to numerous disciplines includes in services (eg. Hospitality, banking, school and information services).


EI is a subtle or soft skill and has become radically popular in the fields of management and psychology. It is widely thought to contribute various aspects of occupational performance (Cooper & Sawaf, 1997; Goleman, 1998 and Weisinger, 1998; Boyatzis, Goleman & Rhee, 2000; Hubbard, 2005; Mayer, 2008) and is applicable to different kinds of industries, organizations, groups and jobs (Schaobroek and Grandey, 2000).

Moreover, research focuses on rules governing the expression of positive emotions, generally in service-based occupations, involving store clerks (Sutton & Rafaeli, 1988); flight attendants (Hochschild, 1983); hospitality (Paules, 1991); insurance (Leidner, 1993), banking, and health industries (Wharton, 1993); legal (Pierce, 1995, 1999); and library services (Harmon, 2000).

In the library service industry, emotions play an imperative role in affecting librarians' attitudes to users and in terms of his/her job performance, (Chen, 2003); competition (Leidner 1993; Dulewicz and Higgs 2000; Korczynski 2002 and Hartley, 2008), to assist information exchanges between users and stakeholders, which create value for the user (Bardzil and Slaski 2003 and Cavalzani, 2009).

For that reason, it is very important to look after the cognitive skills of the relationship between the user and others. Otherwise that relationship between users and stakeholders can be diminished with a subsequent receding of the satisfaction rate and a bad reputation while Devlin (2008) point of view, EI also can "reduce stress, improve concentration, better engage with co-workers, create a more pleasant work environment and, most importantly, increase job satisfaction."

Many previous studies provide evidence that identified EI as positively related to job performance and an enhancement of human performance. However, a great deal of what has been said is unfortunately based on supposition rather than scientific research (Bar-on, Handley and Fund, 2005; Fisher, 2000; Riggio and Lee 2007) while Emmerling & Goleman (2003); Stys & Brown (2004); Douglas, Frink and Ferris (2004); suggest, more research is necessary to determine the exact connection and validate claims that EI and individual performance at the workplace included library services


They are many of the theorists have tried to classify the nature of services (cf. Bateson & Hoffman, 1999; Lovelock & Wright, 1999; Nerdinger, 1994). The most outstanding definition was proposed by Parasumaran, and Berry (1985). They argued that services have four unique characteristics:

  • Services are intangible, which means, they are experienced by the customer.
  • Services are heterogeneous, that is, they cannot be delivered in an absolutely consistent or uniform way.
  • Production and consumption are inseparable.
  • Services are perishable, which means; they cannot be stored or inventoried.

Other theorists have concentrated on the emotional aspects of service as described by Klaus, (1985) and Nerdinger, (1994). Nerdinger (1994) has described a service as a face-to-face interaction (communication) between a user and a staff assuming an exchange of service for cash. The result of the service is an elucidation for a customer problem or request. In such a conceptualization, the core of the service is the face-to-face interaction (or the service encounter).

While Cherniss and Goleman (2001) argue one of the key features of outstanding in human service workforce is a high socialized power motive, which indicates that these people enjoy having an impact and influencing for the good of others or for the good of an organization (McClelland, 1985). Thus the Influence competence, as well as the developing others competence, is particularly critical for those successful in service professions like librarian (see Figure 2.4). The nature of these helping positions requires strong social awareness. Empathy is a given and service orientation takes preference over organizational awareness. People in these jobs need to understand and manage themselves well in order to be helpful to others. This requires self- control, self-confidence, and accurate self-assessment. In addition, they must be able to work well with others, using the competencies of teamwork and collaboration and of conflict management.


There are enormous roles for EI in the organization. Goleman (1998) lists 25 different competencies necessary for effective management in the workplace with different competencies believed to be required in different professions. One of them is the librarian. It is clear from the list that librarians require EI to deal with users and facilitate services (customer service orientation) (Yate, 1977 cited in Singh, (2006) see figure 1.

Many researches and presentations disclose the knowledge and skills of human beings in the library and information process (Jela, 2001). This process involves cognitive, affective, behavioural and social elements. The success of library services needs to instil and enhance this skill (EI skills) in providing quality services at the same time. As Christopher (2003) claims, EI for library staff is essential for harmony, maximum productivity and quality services.

Besides that, performance assessment is a further area for which EI will be valuable in hiring, training, and promoting lucratively library staff. Goleman, (1998) found that 67% of abilities regarded as crucial for effective performance were emotional competencies, and claims EI almost twice as much as IQ and expertise (Goleman, 1998). Similarly, Watkin (2000) reported his findings regarding profit of including EI measure in the selection succession. Based on the data collected in a global consumer firm, selection based on EI measures led to turnover rate decreased from 50% to 6% (Watkin, 2000). Harmon (2000) lists five factors to be the most predictive for recruitment success within the library. These are: assertiveness, empathy, happiness, emotional self-awareness and problem-solving skills. A library manager with intense EI skills will use more than IQ to make a hiring, selecting and promoting decision (Singer, 2005).

Slaski and Bardzil (2003) and Hartley (2008) trace that empathy is a fundamental competency for enhancing the service provision. Promsri (2005) conducted research from 400 respondents at special commercial bank HQ in Thailand found empathy of service provider factors were significantly explanatory variable to customer retention. Wilson and Birdi (2008) as well as Quinn (2007), claim that empathy is applicable in the field of librarianship, while Nikolova (2004) states that "empathy is one of the psychological skills that a librarian must work to improve" and that it could serve to improve the quality of services provided. Users need all types of assistance and services from librarians (Birdi, Wilson and Cocker, 2008). The role of empathy is essential in the development of customer service skills (Goleman, 2001; Bar-On, 2002; Matthews, Zeidner and Roberts; 2004; Flanagan et al., 2005 and Birdy, Wilson and Cocker, 2008.

Likewise, many studies show evidence of a link between emotions and motivation over a broad range of research (Zurbriggen & Sturman 2002 and Anne et al., 2007 and Tella, Ayeni and Popoola, 2007). EI in the workplace can play a major role in making staff more committed, motivated, productive, profitable, and therefore a more enjoyable workplace (Roberts, 2004 and Anne et al., 2007). Study conducted by Anne et al., (2007) showed that individuals with a higher perceived ability to regulate their emotions were more likely to report being motivated by achievement needs. Thus, librarians who regularly receive positive feedback (achievement orientation) from management and users for their contributions are motivated to think about how they can perform even more in their library (Tella, Ayeni and Popoola, 2007).

The ability of librarian's emotions and the feelings of others are pivotal to relationships or interactions that are: engaging, exciting, fulfilling, creative, and productive (Mill and Lodge, 2006 and Birdi, Wilson and Cocker, 2008). Moreover, it is essential for a connection or communication to be established between library staff and patrons (Sanderback, 2009). The achievement of these relationships will depend on the importance of the relating approaches used by library staff. One likely indicator of the staff's ability to relate to their users is their level of EI and to be able to build, cultivate, sustain and occasionally patch relationships with library patrons (Mill and Lodge, 2006).

According to Downing (2009), the changing and evolution of the information landscape, requires library staff be able to making right decision and understand user demands, in order to retain their users in the competitive environment. Library services therefore, must be able to recognize and combine potential interpersonal, intrapersonal (EI skills) and technical skills in order to make better or right decisions (Harmon, 2000; Goleman, 2005). Librarians can sense and perform more rationally in the moment by developing self-regulation skills that enable him or her to quickly metamorphose negative, weakening emotions into more positive, productive ones (Stock, 2009).

Libraries will also benefit from applying EI in terms of:-

  • Personality traits (conscientiousness, optimism)
  • Motivation (attributions, need for achievement, internal motivation, satisfaction)
  • Self attitude (self-esteem, commitment and self confidence)
  • Character (trust, integrity)
  • Cognitive states (intentional flow)
  • Aptitudes (intuition)
  • Social skills (communication, assertiveness, provision of feedback)
  • Social behaviours (pro-social behaviours)


Limited Empirical Evidence to Show the Relationship between EI and OP in Library Work.

Extensive research has been conducted on the relationship between EI and students' performance or job performance. Conversely, there are many scholars in the field of EI that do not have practical evidence to justify their claims that employee success correlates with personal and social skills (Schachter, 2009) and also does not predict performance, specifically because EI is difficult to measure and doubt exists whether it can be assessed at all (Cherniss, 2001; Leonhartd, n.d). Exploring the relationship between EI and librarian performance may provide a source of valuable information for library and information management discipline. There is some research, but it has not been applied to enough samples or in enough situations to be considered a reliable source. Thus, the researchers believe that EI can be applied to the Library and Information Management areas with resulting competitive advantages to the organization in addition to the relationship with the users and stakeholders (Quinn, 2007).

It is widely recognized that a person's level of EI is a good indicator of how he/she will perform in a working environment (Schachter, 2009). When EI is applied in the library, "employees and management will be able to accomplish success in their careers and relationships with others and therefore, provide a great quality of customer service" (Singer, 2005). However, researchers suggest that more research is required to validate this relationship, since the lack of results on the relationship between EI in performance in the workplace has been shown (Leonhartd, n.d).

By knowing the connection between EI and performance, librarians can utilize EI skills optimally and contribute to the overall library mission. The Library can enhance their performance through positive psychology or EI skills (Quinn, 2007) as good as providing appropriate training (Mills & Lodge, 2006). So far, there has been little discussion on how EI skills can give positive significance to librarian performance and a major problem with this kind of application is still insufficient data.

Deficiency of a Dynamic Model/Framework for measuring the EI level amongst librarian

More recently, literature has emerged that offers contradictory findings about the model for measuring EI. Many scholars developed the EI framework and model, and most of that model is pertinent to all kinds of disciplines (e.g. Goleman, 1995; Bar-On, 1997; Cooper & Sawaf, 1997; 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Petrides & Fumham, 2001).

Notwithstanding, these models of analysis have a number of limitations. This work has provided diverse approaches to the conception and dimension of El and it has also caused some misunderstanding regarding the nature and boundaries of the concept (Jensen, 2007) while Palmer (2003) added, "at present there is no consensual definition of EI, the character and limitations of the construction remains imprecise". As such, it is not unforeseen that reviews in this area have described EI as 'popular, but elusive with fuzzy boundaries' (Pfeiffer, 2001). This uncertainty has been the impetus for this study, which has been to ascertain a widespread definition and taxonomic model of EI in library works that comprises the primary facets of the structure.

Every occupation or different job has an exclusive profile of emotional skills that cooperates with cognitive intelligence, communication, education, training, mentoring, and supervising, which are necessary for excellence in performance (Goleman, 1998 and Matthews, Zeidner and Roberts, 2004). Kreitz (2009) claims that limited study and examination of the EI model and traits amongst library directors and their teams are considered as being most important.

From the perspective of services, library encounters are rather complex affairs and contains unique tasks (Leonhardt, n.d and Willis, 1999). Public library staff will have a range of skills and qualities, including interpersonal skills and intrapersonal skills as well as self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management of their organization (IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto, 1994). The use of EI measures in organizational settings has also been somewhat controversial (Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998; Mattews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2003) because the presented areas within the EI framework might only be fitting to measure certain types of competency (Hoppers, 2005).

Limited EI measurement dimensions in several set skills of the librarian and information professional requires them to develop comprehensive and dynamic instruments to measure librarian EI. Additionally Boyatzis, Goleman and Rhee (1999) suggest that elements of the EI model should be clustered in order to rate all competencies to be effective (Hay Group, 2005). The core competencies and skills procedures of the following library associations and authority bodies were examined. The gap and the main features in order to understand the core competencies/skills or related aspects of EI:

NLM (2004) conducted research and identified 11 areas of set skills related to EI required for librarians to possess. While Federal Library and Information Committee Library of Congress (2009) developed the Federal Librarian Competencies needed to perform successfully as a federal librarian. The skills and competencies allied EI involved are:

Another limitation of these skills is a lack of a widespread model in measuring the EI level for librarians. These set skills have still been lacking when skills related to EI have not been evident. In fact, some skills should be placed in the same area as cognitive skills. For example, communication should integrate into the personal drive etc. Regardless of numerous librarian competency models having been developed by several authors/organizations (e.g., IFLA, 2001; ALIA, 2002; ALA, 2008 and NLM, 2004), the skills described in their models are not directly related to EI.

Each set skill had its own description or were not standardized or well structured. Clearly, it is not comprehensive or dynamic to be used in measuring librarians EI. Hay Group (2005), Boyatzis, Goleman, and Rhee (1999) outlined the rationale for the clustering and organization of emotional intelligence competencies in order to make the EI model comprehensive, dynamic and measured.

Furthermore, the availability of evidence indicates the differences in librarian set skills, competency of different authority bodies and countries. There is a deficiency of comprehensive, dynamic and established EI models for librarians and information professionals. It would be interesting and meaningful to discover the relationship between EI and OP amongst librarians using these library EI models and for them to be complimentary rather than contradictory (Ciarrochi, Chan & Caputi, 2000).

Limited literatures Discussing EI skills in the field of Library and Information works.

Recently, researchers have shown an increased interest in EI skills discussed widely in newspapers, (Goleman, 1998) magazines (Druskat & Wolff, 2001) books (Cherniss & Adler, 2000; Goleman 2002), a range of academic journals (Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, 2000; Dulewicz & Higgs, 200) and websites (EI consortium, 2009). In the library and information science perspective, Khoo (2004) claims that much literature has been written on the topic of the competencies needed by librarians and information professionals in the new millennium.

A literature search in the Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA) database, located more than 1000 papers in the past 10 years discussing LIS competencies. However, only 17 articles related to EI were found in LISA. A search in two search engines in July, 2009 shows a stark gap in the number of publications on EI generally, and EI related to library services. Google.com presented 2,740,000 hits in general and 120,000 hits were EI interrelated in the context of library works (4%) while Yahoo.com contained 9,950,000 hits in general and 69,400 hits were EI related to library works (0.7%).

In addition, Orme and Bar-On (2002), noted that the interest in the EI subject has grown by "almost 500% in the number of publications and in the total number of scientific publications alone, of which 3,500 were published between 1970 to the end of the 1990s". The number of papers suggests that it is an important issue related to skills and competencies for the library and information profession and that the profession has appeared at a turning point in its history when the nature of the profession could be revolutionized dramatically (Khoo, 2004).

Although a few discussions of EI and library services appear in both library and information science literature (Edison, 2000; Nazarova, 2002; Rovengers, 2000 and 2002; Singer and Francisco, 2005; Pellack, 2003; and Quinn, 2007), these are non research pieces. One must go outside of library and information management to find other empirical studies. Some librarians are not clear or do not grasp how EI skills contribute to job performance in the workplace (Leonhartd, n.d). Most literature published focuses on psychology discipline, education and the business sector. Few address the importance of EI in information works. The gap is significant between EI in information works in comparison to others.

The stipulation that many literatures publish, reveal and can promote the EI skills of a librarian, and then they can create an environment that harvests trust, respect and fairness and can serve as a means of increasing performance and productivity (Harvard Business Review, 2004; Goleman, 1998, 1998b). In many of the writings related to this subject, EI has been labelled as an important causal factor of career success (Cooper and Sawaf, 1997; Goleman, 1995, 1998). However, most of these claims are subjective and imitative (Dulewicz and Higgs, 1999). In particular, it is surprising that so little library and information works literature has actually discussed the topic, especially the relationship of EI and work performance.


This research has significance at the local and national level for public and private organizations seeking ways of developing policy to improve the quality of service to their users using EI concepts. It is feasible that its impact could broaden to the international level due to the current worldwide interest in the application of Emotional Intelligence in organizations.

Any researcher can embark qualitative and quantitative research to know the relationship between EI and OP. The result may provide accurate evidence and this relationship. Librarians Authority bodies would also get beneficial through empirical research finding to provide appropriate training to enhanced EI skills. Yet, can make EI skills as a vital set skill for librarian. In the context of library services, EI is a vital skill in providing and disseminating information to a patron and can contribute job satisfaction, performance and increase commitment among staffs. This cognitive skill should therefore, include in the set skill and competency of the librarian. Empathy, communication and focus to customer orientation are partial to the EI concept that librarian must possess.


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