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Emotional intelligence and managerial competence of the nurse


How to cite this article:
Camacho-Rocha MT, Rojas-Sosa MC, Hinojosa-Medina E, Olvera-Gómez JL. La inteligencia emocional y la competencia gerencial del profesional de enfermería. Rev Enferm Inst Mex Seguro Soc. 2015;23(3):193-6.

Emotional intelligence and managerial competence of the nurse

María Teresa Camacho-Rocha,1 María del Carmen Rojas-Sosa,2 Evaristo Hinojosa-Medina,3 José Luis Olvera-Gómez4

1Dirección de Enfermería, Hospital de Pediatría, Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI; 2Servicio de Comunicación Humana, Unidad de Medicina Física y Rehabilitación, Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI; 3Jefatura de Servicios de Prestaciones Médicas, Delegación Sur del Distrito Federal; 4Coordinación Auxiliar de Investigación en Salud, Delegación Sur del Distrito Federal. Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social. Distrito Federal, México

Correspondence: José Luis Olvera-Gómez

Email: jluis_olvera2_gomez@hotmail.com

Received: October 13th 2014

Judged: December 8th 2014

Accepted: February 20th 2015


The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) is related to the role that emotions play in our daily lives. The challenge for everyone and perhaps even more for people in leadership positions that are responsible for a group of people, is the daily good practice of the personal and social skills of emotional intelligence. In the professional field of nursing, EI allows nurses to develop effective therapeutic relationships and facilitates interaction with other health professionals; also it benefits the management of services, using intellectual, human and technical capacities geared to the organization. According to Goleman the fundamental is a “mastery of self”, the beginning of everything that occurs in our relations with the environment in which we operate. This approach of dealing first with “oneself” means having the ability to identify our own weaknesses and the behaviors that help us to overcome them.

Keywords: Emotional intelligence; Nursing; Personnel management.

The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) is related to the role that emotions play in our daily lives. For this reason the valuation of people is no longer done just based on IQ; EI is added, as well as how people integrate both resources to address the different aspects of daily life, or, in such case, because of its influence in organizations through the ability to recognize one’s own feelings and those of others, and the good management of emotions.

These personal aptitudes and skills include self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. They determine how we establish the relationship with ourselves, knowledge, and self-control. Social aptitudes and skills, on the other hand, determine how we interact with others, managing relationships, empathy, and social skills. These are added to managerial competencies, and capabilities to be developed are specified for each block, so that the sum of the three makes an integral training of the person in management practice. Add to that a multicultural focus and strategic action as part of current business and labor diversity, which reinforce the skills needed to understand, interact, and adapt to the environment. The sum of these areas promotes an ideal basic framework that directorial staff of an organization should create for themselves to deal effectively with situations in the environment, to provide a channel for the operation of activities, and to achieve objectives, in other words: to be competent (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Basic management skills for directorial staff

The good practice of EI is a challenge for everyone and perhaps even more for people in leadership positions that are responsible for a group of people. Regardless of the extent of the group, exercising effective leadership is required, since this involves a series of emotional and social skills that, as they are learned and exercised by individuals in their organizations, contribute to its development and progress.

With an entrepreneurial and managerial approach, Daniel Goleman notes that "Emotional competence is particularly central to leadership, a role whose essence is to get others to do their jobs more effectively".1 Certainly, emotional intelligence is not a magic wand; but if the human ingredient is ignored, nothing else will work as well as it should. In the coming years, companies whose people collaborate better will have competitive advantage, so emotional intelligence is vital.

In the professional field of nursing, studies on EI and its relationship with other variables have been growing increasingly from 2000 to the present. In the early years, publications on the subject were theoretical reflections. Subsequently they presented the relation of EI with various issues relevant in the field of nursing (mental health, EI application in management, education, conflict resolution, health and welfare). It is also noteworthy that the studies used instruments from different theoretical conceptualizations of EI.

EI allows nurses to develop effective therapeutic relationships and facilitates interaction with other health professionals. However, nurses sometimes show a lack in these skills and express that they have not received sufficient training through their training curriculum. In their daily clinical work they keep continuous contact with disease, pain, suffering, and death, moments when developing emotional skills is essential, in order to minimize the problems that they cause, such as high levels of stress, burnout, anxiety about death, or avoidance behaviors that can affect the quality of nursing care.2 This situation is relevant, since nursing staff makes up nearly a third of the human resources in health institutions and is directly linked to providing care to individuals, families, and communities. However, the rate of nurses per 1000 inhabitants is 2.2, lower than the average figure for the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and for Uruguay, where the rate is 3.5.3

Another area of ​​professional nursing practice is the management of services, which requires the use of intellectual, human, and technical skills focused primarily on the organization. Their process is to encourage other people to complete their activities efficiently and effectively. Gibson JL et al. report that this is to engage in ongoing and systematic actions of human talent to perform administrative activities in a way that is optimal, controlled, and capable of solving problems.4

In this sense, the nurse manager has the constant challenge of balancing the increased demand for nursing services and the existing human resources, and promoting the development of human talent through updating, monitoring, and systematization.  They are given the implicit commitment to exert leadership with greater impact at all levels in the organization, to be involved in decision-making, and to contribute to the achievement of objectives and goals through efficient management of the resources allocated to improve productivity and quality of care. By the same stroke they may contribute to the development of the profession, the service, the industry, and society in general.5

With a perspective more focused on the business and management world, Goleman notes that "Emotional competence is particularly central to leadership, a role whose essence is to get others to do their jobs more effectively. Interpersonal ineptitude in leaders lowers everyone’s performance: It wastes time, creates acrimony, corrodes motivation and commitment, builds hostility and apathy".6

A leader knows their strengths and weaknesses to exploit the former and neutralize the latter, controls their emotions, and is self-motivated with what they do, so they are able to handle complex situations of human relationships and behaviors. They have the ability to establish relationships based on understanding and trust between the people they manage; they practice listening and generate enthusiasm and commitment in people.7
Since emotional competencies explain at least two thirds of outstanding performance, Goleman suggests that the baseline value of any organization greatly increases if it finds people endowed with these powers or develops them in its current employees.

McClellan cited by Gutiérrez8 says that the stars are not distinguished in initiative or influence alone, but have strengths in all aspects, including the skills of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and social skills) and that to achieve excellent performance it is not enough to have one or two skills, but to master a combination of these.

In this regard, the most widespread and shared approach is presented by Goleman in his second book. He considers that the skills in the first sphere, self-control, are the beginning of everything that occurs in our relationship with the environment in which we move.9 This approach is to deal first with oneself, to identify our weaknesses and give ourselves behaviors that help us to overcome them; Stephen Covey explains it with another managerial approach,10 classifying The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in two concepts, private victory and public victory, i.e. inside out.

Whenever one thinks "there must be a change," it must begin with oneself, with a high probability of success, and with a clear awareness of self.


The library staff of the Hospital General de Zona 30 Iztacalco, especially Carolina Barrera Cruz, for review and suggestions in writing.

  1. Goleman D. Inteligencia Emocional. Barcelona: Kairós; 1996.
  2. Aradilla-Herrero A. Inteligencia emocional y variables relacionadas en enfermería [tesis doctoral]. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona; 2013. pp. 49-52.
  3. Gómez-Dantés O, Sesma S, Becerril VM, Knaul FM, Arreola H, Frenk J. Sistema de Salud en México. Salud Publica Mex. 2011;53 supl 2:S220-32.
  4. Gibson JL, Ivancevich JM, Donnelly JH. Organizaciones: Comportamiento, estructura, procesos. 12th ed. México: McGraw Hill; 2006.
  5. Sánchez-Franco CI. La gestión de enfermería. Un proceso de formación y capacitación. Rev Enferm. 1999;7(2):121-5.
  6. Goleman D. La práctica de la inteligencia emocional. Barcelona: Kairós; 1998.
  7. Ryback D. Trabaje con su inteligencia emocional: Los factores emocionales al servicio de la gestión empresarial y el liderazgo efectivo. Madrid: Edaf; 1998.
  8. Gutiérrez-Tovar E. Competencias Gerenciales. Bogotá, DC: Ecoe Ediciones; 2011.
  9. Codina-Jiménez A. Introducción a la inteligencia emocional para el trabajo directivo. [Cited 2011 Apr 25]. Available from: http://www.inteligencia-emocional.org/informacion/introduccion_inteligencia.htm
  10. Covey SR. Los 7 hábitos de la gente altamente efectiva. Barcelona: Paidós; 1997.

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