Utilizing a sample of 76 leaders, comprised of 51Midwest technical college leadership development program graduates and 25 leadership conference participants, the study sought to answer the question; are multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983; Gardner, 1999a) antecedents to transactional and transformational leadership (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985; Avolio & Bass, 2004)?
Results of leader self-evaluation scores from the eight intelligence scales assessed through the Multiple Intelligence Development Assessment Scales (MIDAS) were correlated, utilizing a Pearson product moment correlation and quadratic regression, with raters perceptions of individual leader's leadership behaviors, as measured by the nine components of transactional and transformational leadership assessed with the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) 5X short-form.
Findings revealed transactional leadership behaviors being significantly influenced by a single intelligence. The management-by-exception: active component of transactional leadership demonstrated a significant, negative correlation with linguistic intelligence (r=-.25, p<.05), indicating that as a leader's linguistic intelligence increases, their use of management-by-exception: active likely decreases.
Transformational leadership behaviors were significantly influenced by several intelligences. Overall transformational leadership achieved a positive and significant correlation with interpersonal intelligence (r=.31, p<.01). Additionally, the transformational leadership components of individualized consideration (r=.25, p<.05) and inspirational motivation (r=.33, p<.01) correlated significantly and positively with interpersonal intelligence. As well, the idealized behaviors component of transformational leadership significantly and positively correlated with intrapersonal intelligence (r=.23, p<.05).
Overall, this study identified a significant, positive relationship between transformational leadership behaviors and interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence. Additionally, it found transformational leadership behaviors were not influenced by logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, linguistic, or bodily-kinesthetic intelligences. Considering Bass and Avolio's (1990) findings that, “transformational leaders are more effective than purely transactional leaders” (p. 23), this study concludes the stronger a leader's capacities in interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence the more transformational their leadership behaviors, and consequently the more effective their leadership.