Background: Emotional intelligence has increasingly become synonymous with effective leaders within successful organisations. The perioperative environment is a complex setting within an organisation that requires nurse leaders to possess self-awareness that allows them to understand and control their emotions while using this insight to benefit others. Perioperative nurse leaders can use their emotional intelligence to manage conflict, negotiate between multidisciplinary team members, motivate staff to provide high level safe patient care and promote a positive work culture that can increase staff retention.

Review methods: A literature search of databases of CINAHL, Pubmed, Medline and Scopus was conducted to extract qualitative, quantitative and mixed method studies published between 2016 and 2022. Whittmore and Knafl’s method for integrative reviews and the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews (PRISMA) guidelines were followed. Papers were reviewed and assessed using critical appraisal tools from the Johanna Briggs Institute ensuring only quality scholarly literature was included in this review.

Findings: Peer-reviewed, scholarly literature was identified from database screening (n=797). Following the removal of duplicate papers, abstract and title screening and individual critiquing of articles, a final 16 papers were considered suitable to include in this review. Five themes emerged, namely self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Conclusion: Emotional intelligence in perioperative nurse leaders is essential to ensure a productive, engaged and satisfied workforce. Emotional intelligence is associated with positive outcomes in retention of staff and job satisfaction; therefore, it is important that perioperative nurses not only understand the vital role emotional intelligence can play in nurse leadership but also learn emotional intelligence so this essential skill set is present in nursing leaders of the future. Due to the scarcity of research, further investigation is warranted into emotional intelligence in the perioperative workforce and specific educational interventions that would be suited to the perioperative environment.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.