ICF Code of Ethics – Honoring Others’ Contributions
By Vicki Escudé, M.A., M.C.C.
(Note: Send your Ethics questions for clarification to Vicki@excellentcoach.com , and please include the number of the ethics code relating to your question.)
In this series of articles, we are considering the deeper implications of the Code of Ethics. The Third Code deals not only with coaching ethics, but also potential legal issues.
Because the ethics code is dynamic, it is continually being examined and continually being updated. As we gain more experience and are aware of more situations in which coaches find themselves, the Ethics Committee discusses and refines the code to make sure it is currently relevant.
The third Code is the following: I will recognize and honor the efforts and contributions of others and not misrepresent them as my own. I understand that violating this standard may leave me subject to legal remedy by a third party.
Are you clear about the interpretation of this code? Consider the following questions:
- What is considered an ethical issue, and what is considered a legal issue? Does the ICF Code refer to legal or ethical issues, or both?
- What if you collaborated with someone in the past, and you want to use materials you developed together. Does the Code of Ethics address this?
- What if you find some useful information on another person’s website, or in their materials? Can you adapt part of the material for your own use?
- In your own publications and marketing materials, can you simply site a reference to someone else’s article? Do you need specific permission? What is the correct procedure?
These questions are addressed below.
The following questions and answers are quoted from the ICF Code of Ethics Frequently Asked Questions, used with permission of the ICF:
Q: I have worked with a business partner in the past and now I am on my own. Can I use the tools and documents that we created when we were together?
A: The correct answer is whatever you and your former business partner had agreed to. If there was no specific agreement, discuss it before doing it to avoid an unnecessary conflict. Our ethics code applies to coach-client and coach-sponsor relationships only. ICF committees are developing guidelines for business standards.
Q: I found an excellent 20 item questionnaire used to attract clients on another coach’s website. May I use some of the questions on my website without getting permission?
A: No you may not use them without obtaining permission.
Q: I wish to provide documentation of the effectiveness of coaching to a company who might buy my services. I have two articles that make my points about the great ROI coaching can bring. Do I need to contact the author or publisher to use some of the points to make a PowerPoint presentation for my marketing pitch?
Becoming a credentialed coach involves learning about and discussing the standards of behavior and ethics as set by the International Coach Federation. Indeed, having clearly defined ethics as well as a means for reporting violations and providing consequences supports coaching to be a respected profession.
The ICF Code of Ethics takes on a richer meaning when it can be applied to specific situations with clarity. Almost every guideline has a gray area – a point needing interpretation. As we explore the published FAQs, perhaps we can support the further refinement of our profession’s standards of behavior.
If you have an ethics question that you would like to have answered, please let me know and I will initiate discussion and hopefully help you find clarity. Your questions will enhance our professional progress!
VICKI ESCUDE, M.A., MCC, Mentor Coach, is a pioneer in the coaching profession, promoting the professionalism of coaching for over 14 years. She was among the first coach educators for UTD, Success Unlimited Network®, LLC (SUN), and Strategic Executive Coaching Alliance (SECA). Escudé served on the Board of Directors for the ICF, and was Board Liaison to the Ethics Committee. She has subsequently been a member of the Ethics Committee for several years, and was on the subcommittee to develop the ICF Ethics’ FAQs. Escudé has an active executive coaching and corporate coach training practice, and is author of several coaching books: Getting Everything You Want! Coaching for Mastery; Create Your Day with Intention; and the soon-to-be published, Fast-Track Leader series for “Get to the Point Books.”