Home Tools and Applications Surveys & Questionnaires Grounding Professional Coaching Practice with Positive Assessments of Emotional Intelligence

Grounding Professional Coaching Practice with Positive Assessments of Emotional Intelligence

39 min read

Gary R. Low, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Richard D. Hammett, Ed.D. Contributing Faculty, Walden University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership

A pdf version of this article can be downloaded here.

The purpose of this article is to introduce a positive assessment that grounds our professional coaching philosophy and practice; an integrated process that has emerged over the last 40 years.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) has historically operated from a competency-based model that we were drawn to when we wrote the first edition of our book on EI-centric coaching, Professional Coaching: A Transformative and Research Based Model (Nelson et al., 2013).  Over the last 24 months the ICF has been involved in qualitative research with experienced coaches to validate and where necessary, revise their core competency model.  Any references in this paper to core competencies reflect the new competency model that will go into effect January 2021 (International Coach Federation, 2019).

Positive Assessment – Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness®

The genesis of this transformative theory of coaching was with the research and development team of two young psychologists.  In 1977, Darwin Nelson and Gary Low began to study factors differentiating successful and healthy people from those not so healthy and successful. Initial findings were skills that could be learned, developed, and applied in life and career.  Not so much fixed factors such as traits, types, or temperaments.  They created, researched, and published their first positive assessment to measure personal, emotional, relational, and life (PERL) skills as a first step to engage individuals and groups in meaningful personal learning and change. We have since created a family of valid and reliable assessment products based on their original research. The instrument that coaches in general find most useful is our online Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness® (SCALE®).  The dimensions, skills, and potential problem areas measured by SCALE® are presented in Table 1.


Table 1

SCALE® Dimensions, Skills, and Potential Problem Measures

Dimension Related Skill(s)
Intrapersonal Self-Esteem
Interpersonal Assertive Communication, Comfort, Empathy
Career-Life Effectiveness Drive Strength, Decision Making, Time Management, Influence, Commitment Ethic
Personal Wellness Stress Management, Physical Wellness
Problematic Indicators Aggression, Deference, Change Orientation
Note: The problematic measures of Aggression, Deference, and Change Orientation are reframed as Anger Control/Management,

Anxiety Control/Management, and Positive Change, respectively, when working with clients. Adapted and used with permission from Emotional Intelligence Learning Systems (2020).


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