Master Coach Survey


Inserted in the May AMED Newsletter was a survey designed to sound out the training needs of today's Master Coaches. A total of 61 surveys were returned, about a 5% return rate, and the findings are as follows.

Analysis of the Coaching Role

Of the 61 respondents, slightly more than half were from women, N = 31 (51%), men N = 27 (44%) Respondents were asked to identify their coaching role from a list of 5 - many ticked more than one role.

  1. An experienced Coach either internally or externally?
  2. A Senior Manager or Leader committed to coaching for staff development?
  3. An HR Manager responsible for a coaching team?
  4. A long- standing Business Leader wishing to pass on that experience through being an independent Coach?
  5. A Senior Coach with knowledge of the training needs of other developing Coaches

Most respondents saw themselves as Experienced Coaches, some having multiple roles involving management and business leadership, N=56 (91%), the majority being women, N = 28 (68%) Only 5 respondents did not identify primarily with coaching.

Analysis of Programme Content Areas

The main body of the survey focussed on content areas - theory/knowledge, skill development and personal experience and development. There was also a section on the values, style and qualities which the proposed programme could reflect. Respondents were asked to prioritise each item, with 1=highest, 2= important, 3= low priority. Items not ticked scored zero.

Preferences shown by the respondents are indicated below. The data shows clear ideas about what content areas were desirable The patterns of both male and female groups were very similar.

Preferences for Males and Females are in the areas of:

  • Theories of Coaching
  • A Coherent Theory of Human Interaction, eg Gestalt
  • The Psychology of Human Development
  • Use of Self as an Agent of Change
  • Personal Values, Goals and Vision
  • Action Learning
  • Ethical Learning

Areas of least Interest to Males and Females are:

  • Parallel Process and Systemic Intervention
  • Systems Theory
  • High Academic Learning
  • Personality Disorders
  • Business Input
  • Group Facilitation
  • Family Bibliography
  • Spiritual Perspective

Click here to see the full results.

This data seems to make a clear statement about the need for theory! - not only in the area of coaching models but also in the theoretical frameworks, eg human interaction and human development. The theory areas identified focus on individual rather than group or organisational development, as offered in areas such as Systems, Complexity and Organisational Theories, or Theory of Change. This trend is present also in the preferences made in areas of skill development, with individual skills being selected over organisational. Scores were high for self as an agent of change whereas low scores were given to Parallel Process & Systems Interventions and Group Facilitation. In the Personal Development section coaches want Individual Coaching and examination of Personal Values, Goals, & Vision . There is a clear lack of enthusiasm for a Spiritual Perspective. When it comes to the style of programme, Ethical, Action Learning is in - High Academic Rigour is out!


The data is presented in raw form and so care must be taken with extrapolation.

This sample of 61 respondents represents the learning needs of a group of experienced coaches, many with business and management skills. This group knows their field. The majority of those who identify as coaches are women. This is perhaps not surprising as coaching has a high 'enabling' component and the majority of those in the 'enabling' professions eg, counselling, social work, etc are women. The gender ratio in coaching is probably unknown although the inherent skills which women bring, ie empathic understanding, good listening etc, make them ideally suited to the coaching role. It could also be argued that coaching is seen as the 'softer' side of business and thus an area where doors are more easily opened for women.

A clear finding is the demand for theory. Most coaches learned their trade on the job, perhaps attending a 2/3 day course or a foundation level programme along with learning by trail and error. These trainings, by their nature, tend to be skill-based and do not allow much time for theoretical input. The coaches who responded to this survey want the kind of theoretical framework which underpins the work which we do, which comes from the fields of individual psychology, counselling and clinical psychotherapy, as well as from OD.

An interesting trend is the orientation towards the individual rather than the organisation when it comes to choosing areas of learning content. This is true for the 3 groupings of questions relating to theory/knowledge, skill and personal development. Many come to coaching as a natural extension of work in development, training and consultancy and may in fact have qualifications in business and HR. They are not as likely to be psychologically or human relations trained and so their focus and knowledge biases are towards the large system/organisation rather than the individual. That would explain the knowledge gaps being in those areas. Of course a simpler explanation may be a lack of clarity as to the intended meaning of some of the questions and the perceived relevance of eg. 'parallel process' within the context of coaching.

The separation of a spiritual perspective from ethical learning and an exploration of personal values and goals is an interesting result. The three areas are inter-related and while personal values and ethics can be seen as 'apple pie and motherhood' issues, the term 'spiritual has religious or new age/guru connotations. The ease with which the separation took place may say something about what respondents see as a 'fixed' or external set of beliefs, often originating and supported by family, community and society at large. Personal values and goals on the other hand are internal, highly personal and more likely to be individual specific.

Analysis of the data has been helpful in designing the final training programme and the shape and content of the learning experience. Full information is now available on our web-site Applications are being processed now ready for a May 2002 start.

Many thanks to those who took the time to give us this information. Most surveys included enthusiastic and useful feedback which has been noted. Thanks also to AMED for offering us this platform.

Marjorie Shackleton
The Academy of Executive Coaching