Why should coaches be trained and accountable to a code of ethics?
To help you understand why ethics matter to coach training and competency, we asked coaching professionals and business leaders this question for their best insights. From preventing you from hurting others to gaining trust, there are several reasons why coaches should be trained and held accountable to a code of ethics.
Here are nine reasons coach training, competency, and ethics matter:
- Prevents You from Hurting Others
- Creates a Safe Framework for Clients
- Helps Maintain Boundaries
- Moves Beyond Unconscious Biases
- Contributes to Success
- Reflects on You
- Establishes and Maintains Integrity
- Unlocks Clients’ Potentials
- Gains Trust
Prevents You from Hurting Others
As a coach, you take the responsibility for your clients. You work with them on their motivation, attitude, and even personal problems. It’s important that coaches have the necessary skills to guide people to reach their full potential. Otherwise, their clients might spend a lot of time and money sharing their struggles and not finding solutions to their problems.
Moreover, coaches that are not trained can use coping strategies that work well for them but are not necessarily beneficial for their clients. This might be harmful and bring long-term negative consequences. Also, coaches that are not certified are less trustworthy in the eyes of people looking for support. It’s our human nature to look for experts in the field to increase our chances of finding solutions to our problems.
Creates a Safe Framework for Clients
With training and accountability to a code of ethics, clients are informed and know what they can expect from their coach. It makes a consistent experience more likely and makes the transition from one coach to another smoother as the client’s wants and needs evolve and grow more straightforward.
For the coach, training and accountability provide guardrails that help them tread the line between coaching and other professions and offer guidance on how to behave in difficult and new situations.
For both coach and client, training and ethics ensure clarity, safety, and client focus, and reduce uncertainty, ambiguity, and surprises. The client has a measure of what to expect and the coach has a measure of what is expected.
Helps Maintain Boundaries
A code of ethics is important to help maintain industry best practices, healthy boundaries, and clear expectations with clients to ensure they reach their goals. Without boundaries and ethics, it can get very confusing for both the coach and the client.
Moves Beyond Unconscious Biases
We all hold unconscious biases that can negatively impact our coaching effectiveness. As a member of the International Coaching Federation, the code of ethics inspires me and helps me recognize where my unconscious biases may contribute to power and status differences between my client and me. Powerful questioning and active listening provide me with opportunities to deepen my understanding of my client’s context and perceptions. The increased awareness allows me to move beyond my cultural assumptions and stereotypes, strengthening my ability to hold a safe space for my client’s insights and growth.
Contributes to Success
Trust is foundational to every successful relationship. Especially those in which you are seeking to get various needs met, like medical, educational, financial, and spiritual. It stands to reason that as you are seeking to take your life, relationships, or business to the next level, you would want to engage a coach that you can trust to ensure a successful outcome.
A trustworthy coach should be well-trained and specialized in your area of needed growth and stay actively engaged in continuing education within their field of expertise. Of course, this coach should have consistently increasing levels of experience and success in coaching others.
Adding to this, a coach needs to be above reproach, holding strictly to a code of ethics that guarantees confidentiality, respect, accountability, and honesty. This is an integrity move that embodies the very nature of trust.
Reflects on You
Ethics should be at the heart of every coach, right next to honesty and integrity. How you show up and behave as a coach is what people will see. As a coach, you are charged with helping others bring out the hidden potential within themselves. You can’t do that if all that people remember about you is your unethical behavior as a coach.
Establishes and Maintains Integrity
A certified coach trained at an accredited program should be held accountable to a code of ethics—to maintain a high level of integrity. At this time, there is no governmental regulating body for coaches. This makes it even more crucial for certified coaches to abide by a code of ethics, in order to establish a deep, meaningful, and uniform standard of integrity throughout. True integrity will allow certified coaches to build trust and respect through ethical responsibility. This in turn will allow the coaching profession to continue growing, flourishing, and thriving.
Unlocks Clients’ Potentials
Clients who make the time and financial investment to get help deserve high-quality coaching from a professional who has expertise and mastery of the craft. By completing rigorous training and being accountable to a code of ethics, coaches distinguish themselves in the sea of people offering coaching. Without training, we don’t know what we don’t know. And without a code of ethics, we can inadvertently cause more harm than good. The certification process, along with a code of ethics and a continuing education requirement, ensures that professional coaches are aware of and held to a high standard, and that clients receive the full life-changing power of coaching.
Two of the things that have been paramount in the work I do are confidentiality and trust. Often the person or organization paying for my services is not the individual receiving them, such as coaching clients for a large organization. If I don’t have their trust that what they share with me is confidential, then it is challenging to proceed with the coaching.