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RESEARCH LAB

What Do the Character
Strengths of Coaching
Students Tell Us?

Jay Shetty coaching students have ranked the character strengths of Judgment, Perseverance, and Bravery below similar rankings by large population samples. What does this mean for coaching skills development?

A research account was set up on the VIA Institute on Character platform at viacharacter.org, which enables anyone with the link to complete the VIA-120 adult survey and receive their results, which are also available for download by the research team. The VIA-120 version consists of 120 statements that are rated on a 5-point scale varying from “very much like me” to “very much unlike me.” Every item rates the character strength that it represents, and the aggregate scores determine the total position for each strength.

Between February and June 2020, 2400 participants completed the questionnaire online. The link was only shared in the Jay Shetty Pathway material, which is an introductory program to life coaching offered on Facebook, and, to a lesser extent, in the Jay Shetty Certification School. Participants are, therefore, considered to be consumers of Jay’s life coaching contents.

The scores were accessed and collated to determine two metrics, namely the character strengths that were most endorsed at the top and bottom, and the average position and standard deviation that each achieved.

Method

Analysis of the Jay Shetty Certification School sample results revealed that Kindness, Honesty, Fairness, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Gratitude were the most endorsed in the top five spots, in declining order. The strengths most ranked in the bottom five spots were Self-Regulation, Bravery, Judgment, Perseverance, and Humility, in ascending order.

In a study across 54 nations and more than one million adults, McGrath (2014) found the most highly endorsed character strengths were Honesty, Fairness, Kindness, Judgment, and Curiosity, while the least endorsed were Self-Regulation, Modesty, Prudence, Spirituality, and Zest.

A cursory comparison with a general population study across 75 nations and more than one million adults conducted by McGrath (2014) found the most highly endorsed character strengths were Honesty, Fairness, Kindness, Judgment, and Curiosity, while the least endorsed were Self-Regulation, Modesty, Prudence, Spirituality, and Zest.

The following comments are noted to help place the variances in context.

Discovery

Although the country origins of the participants in the Jay Shetty Certification School sample were not specifically collected, enrollments in the Pathway and Certificate programs indicate a preponderance of English-speaking students, particularly from the UK and USA, which are geographically similar to the samples of McGrath (2014).

The participants in the Jay Shetty Certification School study subscribe to or have an interest in Jay Shetty’s vision, philosophy and coaching approach, and most are pursuing life coaching as a career or investigating the possibility, which means that they are oriented toward serving others and developing themselves. In comparison, the samples of McGrath (2014) consist mostly of website visitors aspiring to learn more about increasing happiness through self-improvement.

Perhaps the most notable difference is the time frame of the test completion. The Jay Shetty Certification School tests were completed between February and June 2020, while McGrath’s test subjects completed the assessment between 2002 and 2012. The circumstances that prevailed worldwide in the first half of 2020 were unprecedented in terms of personal circumstances, pressures, difficulties, fears, and changes.


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With the establishment of the positive psychology movement in 1998, practitioners increasingly focused on the experiences and characteristics that make life worthwhile, rather than dysfunctional and maladaptive functioning. In 2004, the two pioneers, Martin Seligman and Peterson introduced the framework of character strengths and virtues that lay the foundation of happiness. 

Since then, a plethora of research studies have analyzed the validity and reliability of the 24 character strengths that underlie the six core virtues and how they relate to positive performance and satisfaction. These virtues are as follows:

Concept

Although each person has a natural tendency to rely on a unique combination of character strengths, which depends on their past experiences, attitude, and personality, new and changed contexts can alter the demands placed on them.

Chaudhary, V. (2017). A study of various character strengths and resilience among 20’s, 40’s, and 60’s age group of males and females. International Journal of Recent Scientific Research, 8(8), 19157-19168. DOI: 10.24327/ijrsr.2017.0808.0639

McGrath, R. E. (2014). Character strengths in 75 nations. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(5), 407–424. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.888580  

Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Character strength interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dr. Joan Swart is the Head of Curriculum and a Supervisor at the Jay Shetty Certification School and is the corresponding author. joan.swart@jayshettycoaching.com

As every personal strength can be developed through practice, it is helpful to know your individual profile of often and less used strengths to aim to build a repertoire best aligned with your values and goals.

For instance, challenging times may require elevated levels of courage and transcendence, which can be developed through self-improvement and coaching to facilitate more resilience and adaptability.

Therefore, this research study set out to determine and analyze the typical character strength profile of coaching students for comparison with larger general population samples. Such knowledge can guide individual aspiring coaches, and the coaching school as a whole, to stimulate their own growth, be more responsive to life demands, and support clients more effectively.

An understanding is also cultivated of how coaching students differ from their peers in other interest groups, which helps create an awareness of potential blind spots, development areas, signature strengths, and compatible and less compatible qualities.

Purpose

Creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, and innovation.

#1 - Wisdom and Knowledge

Bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality, and zest.

#2 – Courage

Love, kindness, and social intelligence.

#3 - Humanity

Citizenship, fairness, and leadership.

#4 - Justice

Forgiveness, humility, prudence, and self-regulation.

#5 - Temperance

Appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality

#6 - Transcendence

While the top 3 character strengths in both samples are the same, albeit in a slightly different order, the most significant placement difference is found in Judgment, which ranked fourth in the McGrath sample but much lower at number 22 in the Jay Shetty Certification School sample. 

Appreciation of beauty and excellence showed a reverse tendency – fourth in the Jay Shetty Certification School rank and at number 15 in McGrath’s.

While Perseverance and Bravery were among the least endorsed strengths by Jay Shetty Certification School respondents, at positions 21 and 23 respectively, the corresponding positions were quite a bit higher in McGrath’s general population sample (17th and 18th).

With Perseverance and Bravery both virtues of Courage, one can only speculate whether those interested in becoming coaches favor “softer” aspects such as Kindness, Appreciated, and Gratitude compared with the “grittier” characteristics associated with Courage, or, perhaps, whether the context that played out in 2020 boosted Appreciation and Gratitude as a coping mechanism. Likely, the dynamics can be best explained by a combination.

Judgment, as described by Niemiec (2017) as “critical thinking, thinking through all sides, not jumping to conclusions,” is another anomaly that is perhaps the result of differences in sample characteristics as well as context. One could speculate that the nature of coaching requires practitioners to be adept at critical thinking as they avoid unsubstantiated conclusions and biases while exploring how to navigate the blocks and sticking areas that prevent clients from developing their best potential. However, this strength is lowly endorsed among the Jay Shetty Certification School sample, which could indicate it as a consideration for development among student coaches. 

Finally, Chaudhary (2017) found that resilience is linked to the character strengths of honesty/integrity (1), hope (10), spirituality (18), and self-regulation (24), of which the latter two ranked at the low end and were among the most variable in terms of standard deviation. These traits indicate a person’s ability to manage their impulses and emotions and finding purpose and meaning, which are both valuable skills in interpersonal interaction and motivation. As these are indispensable in effective coaching, students should consider adding them to their list of development areas if rated low.

Bottom Line

RESEARCH LAB

What Do the Character
Strengths of Coaching
Students Tell Us?

Jay Shetty coaching students have ranked the character strengths of Judgment, Perseverance, and Bravery below similar rankings by large population samples. What does this mean for coaching skills development?

Dr. Joan Swart is the Head of Curriculum and a Supervisor at the Jay Shetty Certification School and is the corresponding author. joan.swart@jayshettycoaching.com

Chaudhary, V. (2017). A study of various character strengths and resilience among 20’s, 40’s, and 60’s age group of males and females. International Journal of Recent Scientific Research, 8(8), 19157-19168. DOI: 10.24327/ijrsr.2017.0808.0639

McGrath, R. E. (2014). Character strengths in 75 nations. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(5), 407–424. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.888580  

Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Character strength interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

With the establishment of the positive psychology movement in 1998, practitioners increasingly focused on the experiences and characteristics that make life worthwhile, rather than dysfunctional and maladaptive functioning. In 2004, the two pioneers, Martin Seligman and Peterson introduced the framework of character strengths and virtues that lay the foundation of happiness. 

Since then, a plethora of research studies have analyzed the validity and reliability of the 24 character strengths that underlie the six core virtues and how they relate to positive performance and satisfaction. These virtues are as follows:

Concept

Creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, and innovation.

#1 - Wisdom and Knowledge

Bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality, and zest.

#2 – Courage

Love, kindness, and social intelligence.

#3 - Humanity

Citizenship, fairness, and leadership.

#4 - Justice

Forgiveness, humility, prudence, and self-regulation.

#5 - Temperance

Appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality

#6 - Transcendence

Although each person has a natural tendency to rely on a unique combination of character strengths, which depends on their past experiences, attitude, and personality, new and changed contexts can alter the demands placed on them.

As every personal strength can be developed through practice, it is helpful to know your individual profile of often and less used strengths to aim to build a repertoire best aligned with your values and goals.

For instance, challenging times may require elevated levels of courage and transcendence, which can be developed through self-improvement and coaching to facilitate more resilience and adaptability.

Therefore, this research study set out to determine and analyze the typical character strength profile of coaching students for comparison with larger general population samples. Such knowledge can guide individual aspiring coaches, and the coaching school as a whole, to stimulate their own growth, be more responsive to life demands, and support clients more effectively.

An understanding is also cultivated of how coaching students differ from their peers in other interest groups, which helps create an awareness of potential blind spots, development areas, signature strengths, and compatible and less compatible qualities.

Purpose

A research account was set up on the VIA Institute on Character platform at viacharacter.org, which enables anyone with the link to complete the VIA-120 adult survey and receive their results, which are also available for download by the research team. The VIA-120 version consists of 120 statements that are rated on a 5-point scale varying from “very much like me” to “very much unlike me.” Every item rates the character strength that it represents, and the aggregate scores determine the total position for each strength.

Between February and June 2020, 2400 participants completed the questionnaire online. The link was only shared in the Jay Shetty Pathway material, which is an introductory program to life coaching offered on Facebook, and, to a lesser extent, in the Jay Shetty Certification School. Participants are, therefore, considered to be consumers of Jay’s life coaching contents.

The scores were accessed and collated to determine two metrics, namely the character strengths that were most endorsed at the top and bottom, and the average position and standard deviation that each achieved.

Method

Analysis of the Jay Shetty Certification School sample results revealed that Kindness, Honesty, Fairness, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Gratitude were the most endorsed in the top five spots, in declining order. The strengths most ranked in the bottom five spots were Self-Regulation, Bravery, Judgment, Perseverance, and Humility, in ascending order.

In a study across 54 nations and more than one million adults, McGrath (2014) found the most highly endorsed character strengths were Honesty, Fairness, Kindness, Judgment, and Curiosity, while the least endorsed were Self-Regulation, Modesty, Prudence, Spirituality, and Zest.

A cursory comparison with a general population study across 75 nations and more than one million adults conducted by McGrath (2014) found the most highly endorsed character strengths were Honesty, Fairness, Kindness, Judgment, and Curiosity, while the least endorsed were Self-Regulation, Modesty, Prudence, Spirituality, and Zest.

The following comments are noted to help place the variances in context.

Discovery

Although the country origins of the participants in the Jay Shetty Certification School sample were not specifically collected, enrollments in the Pathway and Certificate programs indicate a preponderance of English-speaking students, particularly from the UK and USA, which are geographically similar to the samples of McGrath (2014).

The participants in the Jay Shetty Certification School study subscribe to or have an interest in Jay Shetty’s vision, philosophy and coaching approach, and most are pursuing life coaching as a career or investigating the possibility, which means that they are oriented toward serving others and developing themselves. In comparison, the samples of McGrath (2014) consist mostly of website visitors aspiring to learn more about increasing happiness through self-improvement.

Perhaps the most notable difference is the time frame of the test completion. The Jay Shetty Certification School tests were completed between February and June 2020, while McGrath’s test subjects completed the assessment between 2002 and 2012. The circumstances that prevailed worldwide in the first half of 2020 were unprecedented in terms of personal circumstances, pressures, difficulties, fears, and changes.


1.

2.

3.

While the top 3 character strengths in both samples are the same, albeit in a slightly different order, the most significant placement difference is found in Judgment, which ranked fourth in the McGrath sample but much lower at number 22 in the Jay Shetty Certification School sample. 

Appreciation of beauty and excellence showed a reverse tendency – fourth in the Jay Shetty Certification School rank and at number 15 in McGrath’s.

While Perseverance and Bravery were among the least endorsed strengths by Jay Shetty Certification School respondents, at positions 21 and 23 respectively, the corresponding positions were quite a bit higher in McGrath’s general population sample (17th and 18th).

With Perseverance and Bravery both virtues of Courage, one can only speculate whether those interested in becoming coaches favor “softer” aspects such as Kindness, Appreciated, and Gratitude compared with the “grittier” characteristics associated with Courage, or, perhaps, whether the context that played out in 2020 boosted Appreciation and Gratitude as a coping mechanism. Likely, the dynamics can be best explained by a combination.

Judgment, as described by Niemiec (2017) as “critical thinking, thinking through all sides, not jumping to conclusions,” is another anomaly that is perhaps the result of differences in sample characteristics as well as context. One could speculate that the nature of coaching requires practitioners to be adept at critical thinking as they avoid unsubstantiated conclusions and biases while exploring how to navigate the blocks and sticking areas that prevent clients from developing their best potential. However, this strength is lowly endorsed among the Jay Shetty Certification School sample, which could indicate it as a consideration for development among student coaches. 

Finally, Chaudhary (2017) found that resilience is linked to the character strengths of honesty/integrity (1), hope (10), spirituality (18), and self-regulation (24), of which the latter two ranked at the low end and were among the most variable in terms of standard deviation. These traits indicate a person’s ability to manage their impulses and emotions and finding purpose and meaning, which are both valuable skills in interpersonal interaction and motivation. As these are indispensable in effective coaching, students should consider adding them to their list of development areas if rated low.

Bottom Line

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