New Research Validates PAIRIN’s 8 Imperatives Framework

As outlined in a previous PAIRIN blog post authored by Susan Simpson, the Imperatives are eight foundational building blocks for individual performance and growth. These fundamental skills draw from Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence “Self” domain (Emotional Self-Awareness, Self-Assessment, Self-Confidence, Self-Restraint and Resiliency) and include three other counterpart attributes — Self-Alignment, Self-Blame and Stress Tolerance. These uniquely self-focused attributes help reinforce the individual so they can function as productive parts of a group or organization. The Imperatives are like the ground floor of a building. They form the foundation upon which higher order skills are built. When the base is not solid, a building can collapse, bringing harm to those inside it and even those around it.

PAIRIN AttributeDescription
Emotional Self-AwarenessSensing and understanding one’s emotions and how they impact behavior.
Self-AssessmentTo engage in self-reflection to determine strengths and limitations in one’s values, abilities and resources. 
Self-AlignmentThe sense of agreement between a person’s real self-image and the ideal self. It is distinct from, but reflective of, self-esteem.
Self-ConfidenceA sense of trust in one’s overall abilities that contributes to poised and secure behavior. 
Self-BlameThe drive to consider oneself at fault or inferior, and thus, wrong or undeserving in work or relationship. 
Self-RestraintTo hold instinctive desires in check and refrain from giving full expression to them in conduct.
Stress ToleranceTo endure pressure or uncertainty without becoming negative (e.g. hopeless, bitter or hostile) toward oneself or others.
ResiliencyTo recover positivity toward oneself and others—to rebound—after setback, difficulty or unexpected change. 

To ensure individuals are best prepared to work with others, PAIRIN recommends developing the Imperatives as the first priority of an individual’s development. Imperatives are best laid down in a sequence. You need to start with the first layer and make that solid, then move to subsequent skills — forming, filling and fortifying — until you’ve built a good, solid foundation.

This recommendation drew from Goleman’s science on how to build Emotional Intelligence. One of the keys in his research is that you have to develop skills in a specific order. You need to be able to recognize and understand your own emotions before you’re able to regulate them. And you need to be able understand yourself before you can successfully perform any of these skills with others. Inscribed above, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi is an ancient Greek phrase, “Know Thyself.” This enduring knowledge — that we must be in tune with ourselves before we can optimally function with or in support of others — is at the core of PAIRIN’s use of the Imperatives. 

We’ve seen this play out in numerous populations that PAIRIN’s tools support. The analysis of PAIRIN data for people who have sought assistance from workforce development programs indicates that 70-85% of students and adults with barriers to employment (disadvantage background, lack of high school diploma, criminal record, etc.) need reinforcements in this specific set of eight first-tier skills. Meanwhile, similar gaps appear in only 10-17% of gainfully employed adults and suburban, college-bound high school students (of any ethnicity). Without a solid foundation in the Imperatives, you have a low likelihood of being a top performer in a job or career. Therefore, we regard the eight Imperatives as bottom-line building blocks — the very foundation of the foundation.

We decided to explore data around the Imperatives for further statistical support of existing research like Goleman’s work and our own observations. To do so, we used a process called Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). SEM is a widely accepted method for analyzing data like these as it can be used to examine the directionality of relationships such as those in the Imperatives. Another incentive to use SEM is that instead of just analyzing relationships between two attributes, it uses a single equation to test all of the relationships at once. As a result, we were able to put together models that go in both directions to explore which model is the best fit to the data. This allowed us to test our ideas about building these foundational skills first.

We examined about four years of data from 744 people (51% male, 44% female, 5% gender identity other than listed) and tested it using SEM in three different ways. First, we examined our already-established attribute progression. Second, we looked at it possibly running the opposite direction by reversing the attribute progression. Lastly, we tested a model with no directionality in any of the attributes. When we finished running the various models, the only one that made substantive sense was the one that we’d theorized, where five of the attributes are also supported by Goleman’s work.

The results of that final model show the path coefficients and the standard errors for the path coefficients. These path coefficients are similar to the more commonly known “correlation coefficients.” And whether positive or negative, the closer they are to one, the stronger the relationship. As an example, the relationship between Self-Confidence and Self-Blame confirms that as a person becomes more self-confident they are less likely to engage in self-blaming behaviors. This is similar but opposite to the relationship between Emotional Self-Awareness and Self-Assessment, wherein as a person becomes more emotionally self-aware, they become better at assessing their own emotions. The standard error numbers show how much variance is unaccounted for in those relationships. The lower the number, the more our model shows the relationship between the Imperatives attributes.

This research reinforces our recommendations and practices around the Imperatives and how critical they are as a foundational skill development progression. It supports the model we teach in our training courses (such as the PAIRINOLOGY Series) and why we see such great outcomes for people who work through the Imperatives model from the bottom of it to the top and then go on to great things.

In summary, our scientific investigation supports the established Imperatives and the progression we train coaches. This data reinforces why coaches and workforce developers are seeing remarkable outcomes from the people who develop the foundational skills from bottom to top, according to the model. So, whether you are developing yourself or people that you care about, dig in to the 8 Imperatives with confidence, and remember — everything starts with a well-laid foundation!