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Ethics in Coaching

This lesson is a part of an audio course Coaching Skills for Managers by Karina Margole

We've covered all of the major skills in coaching as well as how to bring it all together into a coaching conversation. Now it's time to talk about ethics in coaching.

Coaching is a very special relationship between two people. When coaching is done right and for it to be effective, the coachee needs to be honest and sometimes even vulnerable with the coach in order to accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses. If you, as a coach, are doing your job right, you will enjoy a great deal of trust with your coachee. This can sometimes lead to some unexpected consequences.

During the course of a coaching conversation, it might become apparent that the person you are coaching is struggling more than usual. It could be that they can't come up with any solutions to their problems or are having a hard time looking to the future to set goals. Sometimes the person in front of you could be suffering from deeper issues than you can help with. So it's important to not bite off more than you can chew. If you suspect that the person in front of you might be dealing with mental health issues, please guide them appropriately.

It might be that the company you are working for already has an employee assistance program that you can direct the person in front of you to. If not, you could direct them to talk to their doctor or to have a chat with a crisis hotline. Have a list of local options that you might direct people to be ready.

If you do suspect that the person in front of you is suffering from mental health issues, be delicate. Don't suggest a diagnosis, don't say that you think they might be suffering from a specific ailment. Tell them that you think there might be something bigger happening for them and signpost them to either an employee assistance program, their doctor, or a crisis hotline.

Another important aspect to remember is that anything that happens in a coaching conversation is confidential. Because of the high levels of trust I mentioned above, your coachees might mention things to you that they don't want others to know. So be sure to make it crystal clear that things are confidential and that you won't mention them outside of the coaching conversation unless they are the ones to bring it up.

Another important aspect to note here is that coaching as a set of skills is very deep. I've only covered a small part of what makes up coaching skills. It's enough to put it to good use day to day in your role as a manager, but it's not comprehensive enough to start a career as a coach. International Coach Federation has very strict criteria if you want to become an accredited coach. Even the first step of accreditation requires at least 60 hours of training.

In the last lesson of the course, we will look at how to practice coaching skills, we will talk about self-coaching, and I'll give some last tips and tricks in order for you to succeed in applying these skills in your job.

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Written by

Karina Margole