The Importance of Emotional and Cultural Intelligence for Successful Leaders


Emotional and cultural intelligence have become sought-after qualities in modern leaders. Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to be aware of, control, and express emotions (Darvishmotevali, Altinay, and De Vita, 2018, p. 34). Emotional intelligence (EI) comes with essential elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In turn, cultural intelligence (CI) measures the ability to relate and work alongside a culturally diversified task force. In a multicultural environment such as UAE (United Arab Emirates), cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence act as critical in organizational performance. Hence, the question arises as to how emotional and cultural intelligence impact leadership in the UAE. This work argues that the success of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s leadership was shaped by his emotional and cultural intelligence.


As per the chosen qualitative methodology, data collection was done using secondary sources such as business journals, among other current materials, including conference proceedings. Vice-President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s leadership style was sought in academic databases, political forums, and magazines.

Type of Data Collection: Literature Search

This research involved a literature search of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s political and social activities, legacy, and leadership blueprints. The literature search is one of the most preferred as it does not involve empirical findings and data testing, which are time-consuming. The researcher is not limited to the type of study as both qualitative and quantitative analyses are considered potential sources.

Sample Choice

Snowballing sampling technique was used in choosing effective studies for the research. This technique uses both intext-citations and references to find other potential sources regarding a phenomenon. For instance, in the current study, it was possible to identify similar articles.

Type of Sample: Scholarly Articles or Journals, and Google Scholar

Google Scholar offers a wide array of peer-reviewed resources that are up to date. It has reports, journals, symposiums, and academic papers, among other resourceful studies. The search engine is well arranged based on date, giving the researcher ample time to search. Besides, Google Scholar provides links to similar studies, allowing one to look at the issue from different angles.

Any Other Selection Criteria: Books and Magazines

The selection criteria were based on English texts, books, journals, magazines, and organizational reports. The selected years were from 2014 to 2021 or, in other words, articles no older than seven years. This wide array of selection criteria yielded adequate sources for the review and filtered out unreliable and outdated sources.

Literature Review

Use of Emotional Intelligence as a Leadership Tool

In Improving Organizational Performance

Scholars have argued that EI is a core variable that impacts the performance of employees. Maloş (2011) suggests that EI individuals perform better as compared to those who do not apply EI. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is known for channeling personal charisma and motivation, thanks to which he pushes organizations towards Emiratization and achieving other ambitious goals.

In Managing Relationships with Employees

The sheik, who is popularly known by his initials MBZ, was named one of the 100 most influential people in 2019 by Time Magazine (Rhodes, 2021). Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has done all this to manage a good relationship with employees across all public institutions. His track record supports this point: for instance, in December 2020, the sheik personally called the families of the frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic (Gulf Business, 2020). In 2018, he bid farewell to an employee who had been serving him for 40 years but had to return to India (Khaleej Times, 2018). Indeed, MBZ’s thoughtfulness goes beyond what a formal leader would do and makes him an example of an emotionally engaged leader.

For External Relationships

EI impacts one’s external relations with other people outside the work environment, thereby strengthening external relationships (Ilan Alon, n.d.). Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan maintains excellent external relationships with leaders globally. In a press briefing, the leader acknowledged how his country and India’s strategic relations were high, as evidenced by his visits (Singh, 2021). The year 2020 saw the ties between these nations cemented by regular parleys to enhance bilateral regional and multilateral fronts in the post-COVID era.

Use of Cultural Intelligence as a Leadership Tool

In Improving Organizational Performance

With the advent of globalization, the task force is made up of personnel from varied cultural backgrounds. To be successful, Vice-President engages in different means of satisfying diversified culture among its employees. Such cultures include freedom of worship, different nationalities, and varied languages in the servicescape.

In Managing Relationships with Employees

Understanding employee’s background is the beginning of responding to their interests, equipping them with resources, and paving the way for development and growth (Alzghoul et al., 2018). Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a multinational team member who can create interpersonal relationships with people from varied backgrounds or varied nationalities using his verbal and non-verbal ways of communication (Singh, 2021). He knows several cultures and languages and displays behavioral skills, including charisma, compassion, and emotional intelligence.

For External Relationships

Building external relationships with stakeholders has become a significant challenge in the current business world (Aloysius, 2010). Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan critically engages his cultural intelligence to weave relations with other nations’ leaders (Singh, 2021). Over his tenure, he has seen relations with UAE and other countries such as India soar high.

Impact of Emotional and Cultural Intelligence on Leaders


Emotional and cultural intelligence promotes a leader’s self-awareness in multiple ways. It makes a leader aware of their weaknesses and strengths. Self-awareness is evident in Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is bound to see UAE flourish internationally. Vice-President’s personality reveals him as a leader who is self-aware of his strengths and weaknesses.


Self-management or self-regulation refers to controlling and managing emotions, the ability to switch impulses, and inner resources. Leaders who regulate themselves do not verbally attack subordinate staff or other employees (Eken, 2014). In addition to this, such leaders avoid unethical standards such as stereotyping or compromising values. Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is portrayed as a self-regulated leader who can work with different people. He has been able to turn the desert into an economic hub, which demonstrates his ability to control emotions while working with varied people.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to understand the moods of others through body language, facial expression, and posture (Eken, Özturgut & Craven, 2014). Through emotional and cultural intelligence, leaders can learn from their internal clients to group them effectively (Alzghoul et al., 2018). Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has had significant exposure to leaders worldwide, which has equipped him with social awareness.

Relationship Management

Cultural intelligence helps employees from varied backgrounds work together while the manager finds their strengths and weaknesses (Nosratabadi et al., 2020). MBZ is maintaining multilateral relations with United Nations (UN) and the Arab League (AL) (Singh, 2021). In addition, he has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries.


Interpretation of Data

Data was sequenced for themes that contained cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence. It was found that cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence had an impact on MBZ’s leadership style. Leaders who have cultural intelligence are employed to showcase excellent performance in culturally diverse environments.

Implications for Employees

Employees should have emotional and cultural intelligence as a critical ingredient in servicescape. Working alongside a diversified task force calls for collaboration and sharing of knowledge to enhance knowledgeable workers. They should cherish and appreciate each employee’s input and praise their ideas for effective services cape. In this view, they should embrace emotional and cultural intelligence following the fast pace of globalization.

Implications for Leaders

As the engines of change, leaders should fully uphold emotional and cultural intelligence tenets. For organizational performance to beat the current competition, leaders should engage emotional intelligence elements, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (Reilly and Karounos, 2009). He has transformed the culture of the UAE people into one that represents the world.


This study was done in a qualitative manner where secondary sources were used. Some of these sources are biased, while others lack credibility. It is advised that future research should be done using primary data. Research carried out in qualitative means of literature review has the challenge of verifying data and avoiding subjectivity.


Summary of Main Findings concerning Research Questions

Previous research has suggested that, in general, many organizations in the UAE have not engaged intensely in the philosophy associated with culture and work, monetary motivation, and organizational control to manage labor turnover. Therefore, the leadership of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan sets a trailblazing example for leadership in the UAE.

Implications of Findings

The UAE has become a ‘home away from home for all nationalities’ largely due to the leadership based on emotional and cultural intelligence (Singh, 2021). Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s leadership is poised in EI and CI, which has strengthened ties with global nations. Following his leadership, the country has offered a bountiful cultural ground for myriad people across the globe.


Globalization and new business ethics make EI and CI a prerequisite for success in diverse work environments. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s example could serve as a foundation for leadership training programs with the main focus on soft skills. Leadership education should incorporate EI and CI skill development to a larger degree interweaving them seamlessly with hard skills.

Reference List

Aloysius, S.M.C.M. (2010) ‘The role of emotional intelligence in leadership effectiveness’. Jaffna University Research Conference, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Alzghoul, A. et al. (2018) ‘Knowledge management, workplace climate, creativity and performance’. Journal of Workplace Learning.

Darvishmotevali, M., Altinay, L., and De Vita, G. (2018). ‘Emotional intelligence and creative performance: looking through the lens of environmental uncertainty and cultural intelligence’. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 73, pp. 44-54.

Eken, İ., Özturgut, O. and Craven, A.E. (2014). Leadership styles and cultural intelligence. Journal of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 11(3), pp. 1-12.

Gulf Business (2020) Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed calls families of Covid-19 frontline workers. Web.

Ilan Alon, J. M. H. (n.d). Global leadership success through emotional and Business Horizons 48, pp. 501-512.

Khaleej Times (2018) Mohamed bin Zayed bids farewell to Indian employee after 40 years. Web.

Maloş, R. (2011)Emotional intelligence in leadership’, Annals of Eftimie Murgu University Resita, Fascicle II, Economic Studies, pp. 208–214. Web.

Nosratabadi, S. et al. (2020) ‘Leader cultural intelligence and organizational performance’. Cogent Business & Management, 7(1), pp. 1-17.1809310.

Reilly, A.H. and Karounos, T.J. (2009) ‘Exploring the link between emotional intelligence and cross-cultural leadership effectiveness’, Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies, 1, p.1.

Rhodes, B. (2021) A fatal abandonment of American leadership, the Atlantic. Web.

Singh, P. (2021) India, UAE relations soar high in 2020. Hindustan Times. Web.

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