Identifying Principals of Alcoholics Anonymous that Enhance Recovering Alcoholic Leaders' Emotional Intelligence: A Modified Delphi Study

Identifying Principals of Alcoholics Anonymous that Enhance Recovering Alcoholic Leaders' Emotional Intelligence: A Modified Delphi Study

Author: 
LouAnn Jesten Hohl
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
This qualitative study, using the modified Delphi method, was designed to explore the application of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) principles by four recovering alcoholic leaders in the United States to their business environment, and to consider possible contributions to enhanced emotional intelligence (EI). Mayer and Salovey defined EI as four branches of abilities related to the accurate perception, use, understanding, and regulation of emotions. The results of this study extended and clarified the findings of previous researchers (Billard, 2001; Clarke, 2005; Landherr, 2009), who found an interesting link between participating in AA and its possible contribution to a leader's EI. The modification to the Delphi was the interview process in Round Three, which gave the recovering alcoholic leaders an opportunity to elaborate on the consensus responses from Round Two. The data from the research was analyzed using the constant comparative method and identified seven themes. Within the themes, the analysis supported the recovering alcoholic leaders' use of AA principles of honesty, openmindedness, willingness, hope, faith, courage, integrity, humility, accountability, restitution, empathy, spiritual awareness, forgiveness, collegiality, and service. The recovering alcoholic leaders credited, to a great extent, participation in AA with the ability to apply these principles effectively in their leadership positions. The recovering alcoholic leaders also displayed enhanced EI, demonstrating abilities in all four branches of Mayer and Salovey's conceptualization of EI. Findings could be useful for current leaders, current recovering alcoholics, and designers of EI training and development programs.
Dedication: 
I dedicate my dissertation, in loving memory, to my father, Charles D. Jesten, who fought a long and courageous battle against cancer. He lost the battle in early 2015, and unfortunately, was unable to witness my accomplishment of completing a dissertation and becoming a doctor. My father was a quiet, religious man who gave tirelessly of his time and money to causes that he cared about deeply. He was a wonderful friend as evidenced by all the kind words and anecdotes people shared with me at his funeral. He was a loving husband to my mother, Gail; father to my brother, Mark, and me; brother to his sister, Barbara; grandfather to Matthew, Rachel, and Christopher; and uncle to all the nieces and nephews. He was a gifted teacher and believed in education and travel as a way to enlighten oneself about the world. He was a talented musician who never stopped wanting to learn new things. In his last year of life, he hired a professional pianist to teach him how to make difficult chord arrangements on the piano. My father had remarkable faith in me, and believed that I could accomplish great things. I am blessed to have been loved by him. Rest in peace, Daddy
Acknowledgements: 
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who were active in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) twenty-eight years ago when I got clean, who made me feel welcomed, loved, and a part of something that might save my life. Had it not been for those late night AA meetings, I may never have gotten clean. I also want to thank those same people for helping me realize that Traditions have purpose; that AA is for alcoholics, and I did not belong there. AA was where my recovery began, but I spent the majority of my time in another Fellowship, Narcotics Anonymous (NA). NA follows the same basic principles as AA, but with one major caveat: we are addicts, we are addicted to everything from cookies to cocaine. Our addiction is between our ears, how we process and think about experiences, how we feel about ourselves and others, and our place in this world. I am grateful to AA for helping me find the Fellowship that ultimately saved my life. Without my recovery experiences, I would never have been able to write this dissertation. I never would have seen the link between what we do in recovery, and what psychologists see as important concepts of emotional intelligence. Although I must say that getting clean was the most difficult and yet the most satisfying journey of my life, this dissertation process comes in at a close second. I started my journey of recovery 28 years ago, and hopefully, the journey never ends. I started this dissertation journey nine years ago, and finally, it is ending. Many people stayed committed to this project and I want to extend a sincere thanks to Mary Ellen Carew, my editor, who signed her first contract with me in 2011, and whose kind words of support, even four years later, warm the heart and give me great faith in the kindness of people. Thank you to my transcriber, Dr. Diane Nixon, who did her best to transcribe what to her must have sounded like a foreign language. The recovering alcoholic leaders who participated in this study were most gracious with their time on this project, and I appreciate their ongoing commitment. Their insights and input to this project were quite powerful. I want to express sincere appreciation to my committee, Dr. Diane Hamilton and Dr. Lee Robbins, who stayed committed to this project until its completion. This project could not have been possible without their extensive knowledge and academic prowess. I valued their constructive criticism, direction, editing, and support during this journey. I want to express a deep, soulful thank you to my dissertation chair, Dr. Jane Brush Lillestol, who never gave up on me, even coming out of retirement to push me over the finish line. Without Jane’s insistence, prodding, and threatening, I probably would have stopped the journey a long time ago. I am grateful to Jane for her spirit and belief in me. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Jane’s commitment to her last “baby doc.” To all my co-workers in the school district and in the dental office, thank you for your support and ongoing encouragement. To my very good friends Mickey and Renee, who listened to my trials and tribulations and never let me believe that the end was out of sight, a very special thank you. To my family, a heartfelt thank you for understanding when I missed parties, celebrations, and birthday milestones. I want to acknowledge the love, support, and encouragement I received from my mother, Gail F. Jesten. My mother, who recently lost the love of her life, is a pillar of strength and consistency that I can only hope to achieve as I face the most difficult moments life has to offer. With grace and tenacity, at 81 years old, my mother continues to live life to the fullest. You are my inspiration, Mom. I love you very much. I want to extend sincere love and appreciation for my life partner, Matt, who has waited patiently for this journey to end. Busy with his own small business filled with stresses and crises, he has weathered this long storm most graciously, and I am deeply grateful for his commitment to our relationship. I love you, Matt. Finally, and most important, I want to thank my higher power, whom I choose to call God, for giving me the courage, strength, and perseverance to keep going, keep feeling, and keep experiencing life to the fullest.