EXPLORING STOICISM IN LEADERSHIP: A Comparison with Emotional Intelligence in Undergraduate Leadership Students

This study was the first to examine two related constructs within the context of leadership. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy offering practical advice for a virtuous and eudaemonic life. As a method to examine one’s emotional experiences (Sellars, 2006), leaders such as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Teddy Roosevelt (Aurelius, ca. 160 A.D., 2002) practiced Stoicism, yet mentions of it within the field of leadership research have been scant. Leadership academics contrast desirable emotional intelligence behaviors with Stoicism (Grewal & Salovey, 2005; Mayer et al., 2008). Regardless, these two constructs are both concerned with effectively managing emotions, practicing self-awareness, high levels of motivation, and sensitivity to the expression of emotion in others (Goleman, 2005; Pigliucci, 2017; Salzgeber, 2019).


Undergraduate students in a leadership minor (_N_ = 445) at a public university completed the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory – University and the Liverpool Stoicism Scale. Analysis included a description of assessment results, an examination or the relationship between variables and differences in participant’s scores based on race, gender, and age. Stoicism and emotional self-awareness showed a moderate, statistically significant negative correlation (_r_ = – 0.391, _p_ = .05). A low, statistically significant negative relationship was reported between stoicism and the relationship management competency of teamwork (p = .003, r = -.018), and a low statistically significant positive relationship between self-management competencies, adaptability (p = .043, r = .189) and emotional self-control (p = .039, r = .192). Student’s Stoicism scores were significantly correlated with gender (_t_(113) = 2.479; _p_ = .015, _d_ = .564).


The research findings provided baseline statistics for continued exploration of Stoicism within the context of leadership. Future research that better aligns with the original doctrines of the philosophy is recommended, particularly in the interest of leadership development.