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 coaching.
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… (What else?)
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 coach.
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 client!
16. Have PEER SUPERVISION - A mentor coach, a coaching instructor, a peer with appropriate knowledge, or an ethics team (PACA, ICF, your school). …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:
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 per month?
24. Speak in terms of possibility - DON'T GIVE ADVISE …as 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 me… 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… this 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 what.

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 to
provide a copy of said adaptation to Beth Meininger for her future use.

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