Emotional intelligence, a concept well known in the world of business, is quickly gaining recognition in the healthcare arena. Described as the primal aspect of leadership, emotional intelligence refers to the ability to monitor and discriminate among emotions, and to use the information to guide thought and action. This paper will explore the theoretical and empirical basis of emotional intelligence and its linkages to leadership. Readers will be informed of the origins and theoretical perspectives regarding emotional intelligence, evidence related to the existence of emotional intelligence, benefits and limitations of the concept and implications for nursing leadership.