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
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.