September 03, 2021

How We Know What Makes an Excellent Coach
How do you know what makes a coach good? What qualities make a coach truly effective in the lives of their clients? In supporting the work of the ministry? We have been training thousands of coaches around the world for many years with great rates of success...

Written By Robert E Logan

Christian Coaching Pioneer, Strategic Ministry Catalyst, Resource Developer, Empowering Consultant : Logan Leadership

The Research Behind the Christian Coach Competencies

If you’re a coach, you know what a huge difference having a coach can make. But how do you know what makes a good or even an excellent coach? What qualities make a coach truly effective in the lives of their clients? In supporting the work of the ministry?

We have been training thousands of coaches around the world for many years with great rates of success—primarily because we are basing our training on the specific competencies and microskills that coaches really need to practice. This brief article provides an overview of the research that identified these competencies and microskills. Starting 30 years ago, and regularly re-evaluated since, this method of training coaches for competency meets and exceeds current coaching standards. More importantly, it really works… and significantly impacts ministry outcomes across today’s world.

Here’s how it started. In 1999 I was talking with a colleague of mine, Gary Reinecke (now a partner at Christian Coaching Tools), about the work we’d been doing training coaches. We discovered that we had run into a common problem: how could we determine whether the coaches we’d trained were effective or not? We had some general idea based on our interactions with them, but we lacked objective norms. How could we objectively measure the level of a coach’s competency? What made an excellent coach excellent?

Here’s a basic outline of the research we embarked upon in answer to these questions:

STEP ONE: Research team organized

We pulled together a team of coaches and brainstormed the key activities that went into effective coaching. We organized that list under categories and did some consolidation and reorganization. What emerged was a definition of coaching, a series of the 5 outcomes of coaching (Relate, Reflect, Refocus, Resource, Review), and an awareness of the centrality of involving God in the coaching process.

STEP TWO: Qualitative research project initiated

We enlisted the supervision of Dr. Charles Ridley, a leading organizational psychologist specializing in job factor analysis, performance appraisals, and assessment interviewing. He holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota and was at the time a professor at Texas A&M University. Dr. Ridley had previously been a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he conducted a major qualitative research project to develop the profile of a church planter.

STEP THREE: Job Factor Analysis completed

Dr. Ridley led us in conducting a thorough job factor analysis of a coach. He ensured that we drilled down to specific, concrete, and observable behaviors that would accomplish the desired outcomes of coaching. Through extensive behavioral interviews with a pool of coaches, a job factor analysis of coaching was completed—all done to the highest psychometric standards. The resulting data was then both reliable (consistent) and valid (measuring the right elements).

STEP FOUR: Literature review conducted

It was only at this point, after we had refined the competencies and microskills but before publishing our research, that we compared our model of coaching competencies to others. After completion of our qualitative research, we began looking outward to the works others had put together to see if there were any gaps in our model. We studied the top 20 books in the field of coaching and compared them to the coaching process we’d designed. That process confirmed the coaching model and competencies we had designed — simple yet comprehensive, solidly rooted in both experience and research.

“The coaching profile is a tool of ministry based on sound social science principles and research methodology. Robert Logan and Gary Reinecke submitted themselves to a process seldom seen in ministry: intense and disciplined inquiry. They have taken Christian coaching to a new level.” – Dr. Charles Ridley

The result was 55 microskills organized under these 9 coaching competencies:

  • Abiding in Christ
  • Self-Assessing
  • Communicating
  • Establishing
  • Supporting
  • Concluding
  • Diagnosing
  • Planning
  • Monitoring

STEP FIVE: Rating norms established

Our next challenge was how to evaluate the effectiveness of a given individual coach. How could we measure the degree to which they matched the profile? We needed to develop rating norms: what did a low-performing coach do? What did a high-performing coach do? Gary Reinecke then conducted interviews on 20 Christian coaches from four continents—randomly selected to get a cross-section of low, medium, high performing coaches. This data allowed us to develop rating norms for each competency

STEP SEVEN: 360-degree online coach assessment developed

Christoph helped us design a 360-degree online questionnaire that was clear and scientifically valid. Each coach would do a self-assessment, then invite several of those they coach to provide an assessment as well. For each of the microskills, we generated two behavioral questions, making sure only one issue was being addressed with each question (i.e., no compound questions). Then we had 210 coaches take it and used a normalization process to create a bell-shaped curve.

STEP SIX: Coach assessment implemented through behavioral interviewing

We could now accurately assess coaches through the use of behavioral interviews. Yet as each interview and comparison against rating norms took almost a full day, the process was time-consuming and expensive. We wondered if it would be possible to create a valid and reliable online assessment, and to do so with precision. For this stage of the process, we teamed with Christoph Schalk, an organizational psychologist and researcher well-versed in statistical analysis. He conducted the research behind NCD (Natural Church Development).

“The online coach assessment is a scientific survey that measures coaching competencies on nine different scales, meeting the standards for objectivity, reliability and validity.”
Christoph Schalk, founder and leader of the Würzburg Academy for Empowerment Coaching

The resulting online assessment now allows anyone, regardless of the type of coach training received, to measure the 9 coach competencies and 55 accompanying behavioral expressions accurately compared to other Christian coaches. The results can then be used to affirm strengths and pinpoint specific areas for continued growth in coaching. 

Much more extensive research lies behind the development of the Christian Coach Competencies—and by extension, the online coach assessment—than most people are aware.

For those readers who would like the full blow-by-blow story of all the research and learn precisely how each step was carried out, you can click here for a more extensive downloadable account. But be forewarned: it is thorough.

For those of you who would prefer to trust us on the research side and skip to the action, click here to purchase the 360-degree Christian coach competency assessment designed to accurately measure your coach effectiveness. We pray it will be a blessing to you and to your ministry.

Download To Explore Further

See the Research Details

Christian Coach Competencies Research Project - CLICK TO DOWNLOAD!

Take the behind-the-scenes tour (step-by-step) of our qualitative research process.

Faith Conversations That Get Results

It’s amazing what can emerge when you approach others with curiosity and a desire to learn about them. Giving careful attention to the most casual conversations can reveal opportunities to help others take the next best step in their faith journey. 

Coaching Can Save the Art of Evangelism

With the rapid decline of the church in America, you are either looking for ways to reach people for Christ or you should be. Applying good coaching principles offers an approach to evangelism that is both gentle and effective.

Is this a coaching or a counseling issue?

What do you do when you’re coaching someone and you enter into a conversation that has the potential to become a counseling appointment? The two disciplines, coaching and counseling, bleed into each other and it is important to keep clear boundaries.

Taking a coaching approach in marriage  

Marriage is often one of the biggest challenges for many Christ followers. Even good marriages will have hard times, and those times will demand a patience and an other-centeredness that can be hard to muster. 

Coaching for Disciple Making Leaders

Are you finding it difficult to change the culture of your small group ministry from merely assimilating new people to forming disciple making communities? If you find yourself in this predicament you are certainly not alone. 

Can coaching help you build better connections with neighbors?

You can use coaching skills to deepen in our engagement with casual friends and neighbors. Giving them the gift of real listening can be an amazing example of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

How can you help leaders prepare for retirement?

Preparing for retirement can be an exciting time. For others, however, it can be a frightening season full of unknowns.  When succession and retirement is looming, you can coach ministry leaders through this season helping them gain peace and confidence. 

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a coach?

Why does coaching continue as a growing industry? Because it works. Top leaders point to their coach helping them clarify and actionize goals, identify growth points and develop skills that contributed to making them the leader they are today. If you are one of those leaders, you are likely looking for ways to create a coaching culture.

You can accelerate leadership development with coaching

Great leaders have to start somewhere. If they are serious about their role, they will be committed to ongoing self reflection and personal development. Coaching can accelerate the development of leaders.

The Supervising-Coaching Rhythm

You can coach those you are also supervising. A supervisor needs to hold the person accountable for results, work toward agreement on goals, and evaluate progress. A coach, on the other hand, needs to draw out and help support the person’s own ideas. You can wear both hats. Here’s how…