Looking at EI assessments can be very confusing as there are a number of different ways to measure emotional intelligence with no real consensus from research, from the academics and from the experts. This is partially due to the fact that there is no consistent model of emotional intelligence.
At the present time there are three ways that you can assess emotional intelligence.
Ability based assessments. These are based on the idea that emotions are useful sources of information that help to make sense of ourselves and our interactions with other people. Our ability to work with emotions depends upon our ability to recognise the emotion in faces, pictures, voices, pieces of art, etc. These types of assessments are very difficult to measure accurately because ability is so individual in the way that we perceive, understand, use and manage our emotions and the emotions of others.
Trait based assessments. These are based on a series of questions looking at our behavioral nature and our self perception of our emotional abilities. The answers given are compared to the answers those of a sample of people (called the norm group) and these can be consider to assess our personality traits within a personality framework. These types of assessment can be easily faked.
Emotional intelligence is a mixture of competencies and skills that drive our performance that can be linked to personality. A mix of both ability and trait based assessments is probably a more appropriate way to look at EI assessment. However, there is some debate about their reliability.
Emotional competencies are not inborn talents, but are learned capabilities that can be worked on and developed to achieve outstanding performance. This is where coaching is helpful.
Working as a coach you can look at assessing emotional intelligence as part of the coaching process. The best approach is to find an emotional intelligence assessment that you are comfortable with using; one that you understand in terms of its application and its limitations and one that you know well.
Remember – your role is to coach not to act solely as an assessor and so your EI assessment should be used to identify, and agree, which areas to coach.
A specific assessment is, therefore, not as important as being able to use your chosen assessment efficiently and effectively. This must be done with the full agreement and understanding of the person that you are coaching in order to raise their self awareness.
The emotional intelligence assessment can be used to measure the success of you and your coaching by getting the person you are coaching to complete an assessment before you start coaching and then again after a few months of your coaching interventions. Changes in EI ability or subtle changes in personality traits, or a mix of both, will show up in the assessment to demonstrate how effective your coaching has been.