Ethical Coaching Practices

The ethical practice of coaching is an interesting topic. Coaching is still not an industry that is regulated by a worldwide organization, so in a manner of speaking anyone can pretty much hang up their sign tomorrow and call themselves a "coach."

If you're like me, this raises some important questions. Not knowing if my coach is really in my corner or just in my pockets, keeps me up at night.

What are ethical coaching practices?

Successful coaching relationships are based on trust.

Trust is built upon a foundation of principles that allow us to discern what is right from wrong, ethical from non-ethical.

What are the legal and ethical dilemmas that arise as the profession grows?

Coach-Client problems, confidentiality and conflicts of interest have to be addressed carefully.

As a coach, you need to be very aware of your client's best interest. This means your aim should be to:

  • Discover, clarify and align with what your client wants to achieve
  • Encourage a process of self-discovery and exploration
  • Elicit solutions and strategies from your client
  • Hold your client responsible and accountable to himself

The bare necessities

While there are no exact rules to how you should conduct yourself as a coach, there are certain practices that show your commitment to being ethical

1. Do you have policies and procedures that outline how you coach?

Sharing these practices with your clients BEFORE they sign up with you, is a clear sign that you know what you're doing. If your clients know what to expect, it makes things run smoothly and easily.

2. Make a reality check

Read between the lines of any claim you make, does it ring true to you? If it doesn't, what can you change?

3. Are you upfront about your limitations?

What area of coaching do you serve? Are you willing to refer your clients to someone that's perhaps more suitable?

4. Do you adhere to a professional body of coaching, such as the ICF?

Although coaching is currently not regulated, a coach choosing to uphold common ethical standards is a good indicator to your clients that you're not just out there to get into their pockets.

Your coaching toolbox can contain many techniques and assessments to bring about change. Without a framework of ethical rules and guidelines for coaching, the question to answer is: Will you help or hinder your client's progress?

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