Working with emotionally intelligent people: I am 'Energized to' be more proactive = 與高情緒智力的人共事: 為積極主動注入動力

Project title
Working with emotionally intelligent people: I am 'Energized to' be more proactive = 與高情緒智力的人共事: 為積極主動注入動力
Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Faculty Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
24 months
Working with emotionally intelligent teammates is more enjoyable and productive than working with emotionally unintelligent teammates. Emotional intelligence (EI) can be briefly defined as the ability to handle emotions and emotional issues. We are well informed that emotions are inherently social functional and that EI can lead to better social interactions. However, the research to date has largely been limited to the impact of a focal employee’s EI on his/her own attitudes and behaviour. We are keen on the knowledge about the interpersonal process of EI, how the influences of teammates’ EI happen, on the focal employee at the workplace, which may contribute to the literature significantly. At the same time, the changing nature of work and organisations has challenged traditional views of how employees perform at work. With the increasing interdependence and uncertainty of work systems, proactivity—self-initiating, future-oriented behaviour to change work situations—is becoming crucial to employees’ performance. Under such situations, how teammates and the focal employee understand and manage emotions in social interactions are even more crucial for initiating and implementing changes in team context. Unfortunately, there is limited knowledge about the interpersonal process of EI on proactivity in the team context.

Parker, Bindl and Strauss (2010) identify ‘energized to’ as the key direct affect pathway influencing proactivity. In this process, affect is functional and ‘energize’ individuals to become proactive. We posit that this pathway explains how EI has interpersonal effects on proactivity in a team environment. According to the theory of EI (Mayer, & Salovey, 1997), EI of both teammate’s and focal employee can help the focal employee nurture positive affect and/or reduce negative affect. Meanwhile, the proactivity literature shows that positive and negative affect may motivate or sometimes demotivate the focal employee to be proactive. Building on theory of EI and the motivational process of proactivity, the proposed research will focus on the interpersonal process of EI’s on proactivity. That is, we will aim to investigate how teammates’ EI influences a focal employee’s proactivity in the team context. Specifically, the proposed research will test how team composition of EI influences a focal employee’s positive and negative affect, which in turn influences his/her proactive behaviour.

Additionally, the focal employee’s EI will act as a moderator in the interpersonal process according to theory of EI and the motivational process of proactivity. One’s own EI determines how one interprets and deals with teammate’s emotional information and one’s own emotional experience. Thus, the focal employee’s EI is an important condition to both the team composition of EI and affect link and the affect and proactivity link. By taking consideration of focal employee’s EI, the proposed research aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the relationship between teammates’ EI and proactivity and how the interpersonal process works under different level of focal employee’s EI. This will further enlighten future research on the interpersonal processes of EI in workplaces.

To test the interpersonal process model of EI and proactivity, we conducted a pilot study to preliminarily explore the interpersonal influence of EI in a team setting. Based on the positive results, we propose to conduct a longitudinal field survey to formally test the proposed model. We believe the research may contribute to the EI, affect and proactivity literature, and provide managerial implications for managing employee EI and proactivity in the workplace. Even if applied to interpret the Hong Kong workforce with the high interdependence and uncertainty, the research would be of significant pedagogical value.