This post is part of a series on the 9 competencies of an effective coach, taken originally from Developing Coaching Excellence. To see all entries in this series posted so far, you can search “coach competency” on the main page of my blog. 

Coach competency 7 DiagnosingDiagnosing brings us into the strategic competencies. Focusing more on the technical aspects of coaching, these competencies are more strategic than relational. Remember that coaching is a relationship with a purpose— the strategic competencies focus on the purpose side of that equation. This is where coaches hone in on helping people move ahead in their ministries and make progress toward their goals.

A problem or goal is now on the table, needs a good analysis, then requires action steps and monitoring. Say a person in the business world is being coached with the goal of releasing a new product or establishing a team within their organization. The strategic competencies address the question of how they are going to accomplish that task.

Diagnosing begins that process by assessing problems or situations through effectively pinpointing needs, gathering data, analyzing data, and evaluating possible action plans. The key to effective diagnosing is having a clear picture of the situation or problem before moving into any kind of planning. Until people have a firm handle on all the contributing factors, it’s dangerous to move forward with plans. Without putting the necessary time and energy into diagnosis, the planning process will get sidetracked and derailed.

One of the most helpful things coaches can do in diagnosing is ask good questions. A question as simple as, “Where are you at today?” can begin revealing a clear picture of the starting point. Good subsequent questions prompt the person being coached to begin to see the realities they’re facing right now. From there, good diagnosis means probing deeper to see the root issues.

Good coaches challenge their clients to do the deep work of diagnosing. Until all parties are satisfied that sufficient work has been done, the process should not shift gears into planning mode.

How can you go about strengthening the coaching competency of diagnosing in your life?