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Grounding Professional Coaching Practice with Positive Assessments of Emotional Intelligence

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Dockrat (2012) administered the ESAP® to first-year college students (N = 1,990) at a technology university in South Africa. Her findings confirmed the factor structure and yielded strong internal consistency coefficients. An interesting aspect of this study was the comparison of the profiles from first-year students in South Africa and first-year students from south Texas. The average profiles of the students from both groups looked very similar, despite having experienced very different cultures and languages, and having been reared on the opposite sides of the globe. This finding suggests that the ESAP® model reliably measures a global human construct.

Hammett et al. (2012) reported findings of the ESAP® skills’ ability to differentiate leadership quality among U. S. Air Force (USAF) officers (N = 1,213) based on the officers’ participation in a five-week residency course on leadership development. The participants had a minimum of four years of service to be selected for the course.  The officers were given the assessment during the first week of the course and then the top and bottom 10% of the graduates were compared based on their assessment scores upon graduation.  Eleven of the 13 ESAP® scores were statistically significantly different based on course performance.  The only two scales that did not significantly differentiate the top and bottom performers were Stress Management and Aggression. It was surmised by the authors, therefore, that the USAF must be very good at selecting for and developing these skills throughout its officer corps.

Hammett et al. (in press) conducted a follow-up study with the USAF officers after the leadership course transitioned to teaching the full-range leadership model using the Leadership Development Scale (LDS).  The LDS was developed to measure a priori leadership preferences of the officers including Laissez Faire, Management by Exception (Passive), Management by Exception (Active), and Contingent Reward, as well as the four dimensions of transformational leadership: Idealized Influence, Intellectual Stimulation, Inspirational Motivation, and Individualized Consideration.  The laissez-faire style was confirmed as a non-leadership approach through its statistically significant negative correlations with ESAP® skills and positive correlations with ESAP® problematic indicators. Furthermore, this research confirmed the findings by Tang et al. (2010) that Nelson and Low’s measures of emotional intelligence are strongly, significantly correlated with transformational leadership.

Emotional Intelligence as a Learning Framework

What do these studies tell us about the extent to which the ESAP® measures emotional intelligence? This question cannot be answered without an operational definition of EI, so let’s begin there.  Our short definition of EI is the learned ability to think constructively and act wisely (Nelson et al., 2013). The strong and significant correlations with Epstein’s CEST model, the CTI, provided convergent validity of the ESAP® as an EI-centric measure based on constructive thinking.  These strong and significant correlations also provide discriminant validity of the ESAP® as a measure of skills that can be taught, learned, and practiced above and beyond automatic thinking and personality as defined by CEST.  Also related to personality and mental health, the positive relationship of the ESAP® with the validated mental health scale, the 16PF, provided additional evidence that the ESAP® measures a construct related to healthy, effective being.

Nelson and Low’s (2011) longer definition emphasized learned abilities and skills that facilitate the four healthy being domains of (a) accurate self-knowledge and appreciation, (b) a variety of healthy relationships, (c) working well with others, and (d) dealing healthily with the demands of everyday work and life. For Epstein, EI was the manifestation of constructive thinking.  For Nelson and Low, based on their longer definition, EI is healthy being in the world (i.e., thinking well [healthily] and acting wisely).

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