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Grounding Professional Coaching Practice with Positive Assessments of Emotional Intelligence

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We view our models and the coaching profession as emergent, fluid, and transitioning with new knowledge.  We respect and value the work and contributions of others, and enjoy collaborating with others to add to the benefits of coaching for individuals and teams.  A growing history of experience and research studies include over 80 doctoral dissertations that support the enduring tenets and qualities of transformative learning and training. These tenets include

  • positive, engaging human development philosophy and learning systems;
  • research derived — four decades of studies with personal, emotional, relational, and life skills;
  • person-centered with a building quality from within emphasis that identifies strengths first, and areas for improvement next;
  • relationship focused; emphasizing skills for healthy relationships and social interactions when under pressure;
  • behavioral anchors and focus for practicing skills daily;
  • practical personal change system for adapting to change;
  • intelligent self-direction and goal achievement.

Early Influences — Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, John Gardner

The influence of humanistic psychology has been important in the development of our model of transformative emotional intelligence.  These thought change leaders can also inform discussions about effective coaching.  With humanistic psychology, helping practitioners began emphasizing non-deficit models for being healthily human, and they used these models for helping individuals per–fect themselves based on the client’s unique life goals and aspirations.  Our interpreted goal of humanistic psychology is not so different from the helping goal of professional coaches; to inspire clients to maximize their personal and professional potential.  As we strive and continue to develop, refine, and integrate a holistic theory of human behavior evolving from research on healthy, productive being, we want to acknowledge the early influences of the theories, thoughts, and works of Carl Rogers (1995), Abraham Maslow (1954), John Gardner (1961, 1963), and others.

Carl Rogers’ lifelong interest of a fully functioning person, client-centered learning, acceptance, and positive change inspired our own interest in these topics and in his work.  We learned about Dr. Rogers and his significant body of classic works and influence from readings, doctoral studies from caring faculty, and from students of Rogers at the University of Wisconsin.  Our colleague, Darwin Nelson met Rogers at a national counseling convention in Dallas in 1967 and later visited with him in La Jolla with insightful discussions about our positive assessment and person-centered learning framework.  Genuine, authentic relationships are at the center of emotional learning and positive change.  Reflective listening and core conditions of inner growth, congruence, empathy, and positive regard are behavioral reflections of personal health and well-being.  We see the conditions of person-centered, relationship-focused learning as key personal and emotional skills that guide wise actions and positive personal change.

Recall Rogers’s (1995) curious paradox that, “When I accept myself just as I am, then I change” (p. 17).  The quotation reflected his understanding that when he accepted himself as decidedly imperfect yet still caring and growth-oriented, then he could be more present and aware of what he was feeling at any given time for the purpose of using those feelings to connect more meaningfully with others. The curious paradox reflects a kind of dynamic self-awareness that is important to the practice of coaching with emotional intelligence. Professional coaches who inculcate emotional intelligence in their work, work continually with themselves and their clients to engender the curious paradox on a personal level to pursue meaningful goals.

Along with Rogers, Abraham Maslow (1954) piqued our interest in healthy, positive human conditions. For Maslow, these included motivation, needs, and the growth of the person.  We see value in helping individuals develop to be their best version of self, especially in relationships with others.  Striving to grow and develop our abilities to the fullest is important for achieving balance and equilibrium.  As shown in Figure 2, each of the key humanistic models that have influenced the development of our transformative theory of emotional intelligence can be shown to strive for equilibrium by balancing the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral systems of being human (Hammett, 2013).  You may recognize the zeniths of fully being human described by Maslow’s self-actualizing (Panel A), Rogers’s fully functioning person (Panel B), and Epstein’s cognitive-experiential self (Panel C).  Congruent with these models, our transformative approach adds three ways of modeling EI through active imagination, self-directed coaching, and guided mentoring (Panel D). As demonstrated in our explanation of using the ELS that follows, we integrate this humanistic framework of healthy being with positive assessment through the ELS to help shape productive coaching relationships.

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