Date of Award

Summer 5-6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Kathleen Ringenbach

Second Advisor

Walter Hightower

Third Advisor

Loren O'Connor


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the use of emotional intelligence for coping with organizational role stress as perceived by senior-level leaders serving as college presidents, vice presidents and deans in the Washington State community and technical college system. A second purpose of this study was to describe the differences in perceptions amongst senior-level leader’s use of emotional intelligence as a stress coping strategy.

Methodology: For this qualitative phenomenological study, data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews from 15 senior-level leaders. Participants identified a variety of ways emotional intelligence factors into coping with organizational role stress.

Findings: Findings suggest having self-awareness, expressing one’s self to build mutual understanding and trust, using multiple sources of data to inform decision making, having support systems, and optimism were identified as the top themes across each key factor area. Differences were found among leader role type in response frequencies, and coping strategies identified.

Conclusions: This study drew eight conclusions on how community and technical college senior-level leaders use emotional intelligence to cope with occupational role stress. The conclusions of this study lead to several implications for aspiring community and technical college leaders, current college leaders who seek to advance in their career, emotional intelligence and occupational stress researchers, and organizational development practitioners.

Recommendations: Further study on emotional intelligence and organizational role stress is needed to obtain generalizable findings to include other types of higher education institutions, larger samples of senior-level community and technical college leaders for comparison of similarities and differences and correlate perceptions between more than one sample. Other research methodologies are recommended.