Conflicts of Interest in Coaching

From the International Coach Federation, ICF, Code of Ethics in Section 2 under Conflicts of Interest it says, “As a coach: 9) I will seek to avoid conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest and openly disclose any such conflicts. I will offer to remove myself when such a conflict arises.”

From a learning perspective, think transparency.  Transparency about what might be perceived as a conflict, transparency about known conflicts, transparency about coaching roles, ethics, and relationships.

To facilitate addressing a possible conflict of interest, in the Center for Coaching Certification class on ethics the below decision tree is provided:coaching conflict tree

As a coach, start with the first question: “Can I effectively coach this client?”  Follow the tree based on your answers.  If you answer yes, the question, “Could this be perceived as a conflict?” significantly includes the word ‘perceived’.  As a generalization, if you are asking the question chances are the answer is yes.  If your answer to the first question is no, the question, “Would telling the client the specific conflict potentially add to or create a problem?” significantly includes the word ‘potentially’.  Again, as a generalization, if you are asking the question chances are the answer is yes.

In a coaching program, prevent some conflicts by educating the participants and the organization on coaching roles and ethics in advance.  Then, if a conflict arises such as a manager or supervisor wanting information disclosed for example, simply refer them to the program manual and Code of Ethics.

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