The Relevance of Emotional Intelligence in Hedge Fund Leadership

Beginning a dialogue on the relationship between hedge fund (HF) leadership and emotional intelligence (EQ) is the objective of this research paper. By composing an exploratory study determining the relevance of EQ in HF leadership, the researcher aims to lay a foundation for future discussion and debate. To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind in the field.

The study utilised Goleman’s (1998) EQ framework to examine the growth impact of a HF leader’s EQ. More specifically, how determinant is a HF leader’s self-awareness (SA), self-regulation (SR), motivation, empathy and social skill in his success?  Goleman’s model was chosen due to its applicability to both portfolio management and organisational leadership – a HF leader’s primary responsibilities.

The empirical evidence suggests not only is a high level of EQ beneficial to successful HF leadership – it was deemed vital in specific instances. If the fund’s leadership possessed a high level of EQ, the benefits reached beyond performance and AUM growth. Founders with a high EQ positively impacted the culture and climate, and a leader with a lower EQ had converse effects. The leadership of failing funds often had low EQ levels.

What is emotional intelligence?
Dulewicz and Higgs (2000, p.343) contest the roots of this “nebulous” construct of EQ appear to “lie in the apparent inability of traditional measures of rational thinking such as IQ tests or grades to predict who will succeed in life.”