Life Tools: Ways to Up Your Ethical
Standards as a Coach
These tips, although intended for coaches, can be adapted for
mentors, consultants, and other service providers.
1. Know the International Coach Federation (ICF) DEFINITION of
2. Know your PERSONAL DEFINITION of coaching and the distinctions
between therapy, consulting and mentoring.
3. Be thoroughly familiar with the ICF STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT.
4. Become a master of the ICF COACHING CORE COMPETENCIES by consistently
doing whatever it takes to learn, gain experience, receive supervision,
acquire feedback and develop.
5. Make sure you are in, or are a graduate of ACCREDITED COACH
TRAINING program and that you continue education on a regular
basis beyond graduation and certification!
6. Have HIGH STANDARDS (written). The higher your standards, the
lower your risk of having an ethical or legal dilemma.
7. Develop your PERSONAL CODE OF ETHICS. If you have your own
code of ethics in writing, you are providing informed consent
(personal or corporate).
8. Develop an ETHICS REFLEX, almost a second nature ethical instinct
that enables you to know the right thing to do. This comes from
having the KNOWLEDGE to be able to recognize and see possibility
in an ethical dilemma.
9. Have the ability to see POSSIBILITIES when presented with a
dilemma or know WHO can help you to see possibilities. Without
seeing possibilities, the dilemma will likely continue to worsen.
10. Work with HIGH-FUNCTIONING CLIENTS. Define it! Build that
into your standards.
11. Have a very thorough COACHING AGREEMENT, including sections
on confidentiality, the definition of coaching, disclosure that
coaching is NOT therapy, and boundaries.
12. Get real clear upfront! Create a CHECKLIST to make sure you
have discussed all necessary items during the intake session.
13. Have PROFESSIONAL SYSTEMS in place and stick to them! This
would include billing, accounting, note taking, filing, assessments,
evaluation procedures, etc
14. KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES - Define and clarify your hours and what
you will and won't do for clients. Know the limits of your professional
relationship. CoachU has "How I Coach Clients" which
includes what I do, don't do, and expectations of the client and
15. Know signs of boundary or relationship violation and HAVE
THE COURAGE to immediately re-align yourself with your standards
and personal code of ethics. This is in behalf of you and your
16. Have PEER SUPERVISION - A mentor coach, a coaching instructor,
a peer with appropriate knowledge, or an ethics team (PACA, ICF,
Access to information beyond that which we
already know!!!!! Have a LIST of people you can call. Dolly Garlo
is Chairman of the ICF Ethics Committee for the year 2001. She
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
17. IDENTIFY CLIENT GUIDELINES - What are the requirements for
someone to work with you? Have these guideline clearly identified
for yourself and for your clients. CoachU has "Are you Coachable?"
a good place to start!
18. Have an INTAKE PROCEDURE that covers all of your standards
and guidelines. Some coaches charge extra for the intake session
including a lengthy interview followed by a full discussion of
the coaching process, including determination of the client's
goals and ways of measuring success. Be sure all the pertinent
information is written in addition to discussed.
19. Be sure you provide full DISCLOSURE of your educational background,
training and experience.
20. Disclosure (personal) in general (boundaries).
21. Have liability INSURANCE! Professional Liability Insurance
An insurance program designed especially for the ICF; provides
an affordable package of business property, computer, and liability
insurance, including professional insurance for members. Marge
Patterson of Loomis Insurance Agency is underwriting Hartford
Insurance in 30 states and can be reached at: 888-425-2460
#1 Business Liability $ 5,000 for office contents
1,000,000 liability for office calls
#2 (if in approved state) 1,000,000 profession liability for phone
consultations, workshops, etc.
22. GET WRITTEN PERMISSION to speak with a previous coach or therapist
- don't ever just speak with them. The other coach or therapist
then needs to get permission directly from the client to speak
with you! This is not a one-way permission.
23. Use LANGUAGE than cannot be mixed up with therapy: Do you
run a PRACTICE, BUSINESS or SERVICE? This will create clarity
for YOU and the POTENTIAL clients. By the way
Are we still
practicing? Have you asked if you can practice on them at $300
24. Speak in terms of possibility - DON'T GIVE ADVISE
if there is no other way. If you choose to give advice, be sure
you are an "expert" in the subject.
25. COACH CLIENTS, NOT FAMILY!
Individuals or groups in
which you have no personal steak. This way you are not coaching
for you, but for them! Professional relationships are based on
fiduciary responsibility. Family relationships, by contrast, are
based on love. My father was a basketball coach - when he coached
I quit! I had great potential. He wanted me to excel
so badly, he couldn't listen and he couldn't be objective!
26. RELEASE your clients. They are not there for you. You are
there for them! Once they have achieved their goals - release
them! And be careful not to be saying, "You know
is not the kind of client I really want to work with, but I need
the $$$$$$." Especially early in your business/service.
27. Get involved with the ICF and co-create the future of coaching
in a way we can all stand proud.
28. Have the INTEGRITY to ACT in the most ethical way - no matter
Copyright © 2001 Beth Meininger, PCC Coaching Journeys 215-794-8118
Reproduction is permitted, subject to respect of copyright. Adaptation
of this list is only permitted for professions other than coaching.
Persons adapting this to another profession are hereby agreeing
provide a copy of said adaptation to Beth Meininger for her future