ICF Code of Ethics – Marketing to ICF Members and Conflict of Interest in Coaching
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.)
Becoming a credentialed coach involves learning about and discussing the standards of behavior and ethics as set by the International Coach Federation. Indeed, having a clearly defined ICF Code of Ethics as well as a means for reporting violations and providing consequences supports coaching to be a respected profession.
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.
Are you clear about the terms used in the ICF Code of Ethics? Can you answer these questions about “marketing” to ICF members, and also the important topic of “Conflict of Interest?”
- May I send out promotional information about my products to coaching colleagues I have found on the ICF website?
- May I coach a mid-level manager in a corporation when I am already coaching his boss?
- I am an internal coach. May I coach someone in my organization if I have input into his/her performance evaluation?
- What are some specific examples of Conflict of Interest for coaches?
The answers to these questions are below.
The following answers are quoted from the ICF Code of Ethics Frequently Asked Questions, used with permission of the ICF. To find the full wording of the Codes, please refer to the Code of Ethics from the ICF website.
Code #8 deals with using contact information, and states, “I will use ICF member contact information (email addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) only in the manner and to the extent authorized by the ICF. “
Q: I found e-mail contact information in various places on the ICF website. May I send information about soliciting (asking without explicit invitation) my products to my colleagues who are members of ICF?
A: No, You may not use the ICF website contact information to send, solicit clients or students, nor to advertise your product and services.
Code #9 is the important “conflict of interest” code, and requires a closer look for accurate interpretation. It states, “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.”
Here is a statement that explains this code more fully:
Conflict of Interest: A conflict of interest exists when you have an interest that interferes with your responsibilities as a coach or interferes with your ability to act in the best interest of the coaching profession. A conflict of interest may arise when you use your role as a coach for inappropriate personal gain or when personal interests conflict with your coaching agreement.
Examples of conflicts to avoid include accepting or offering payments outside the coaching agreement, or having a substantial investment or position in any business to which you are providing coaching services. Coaches should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Q: May I accept a contract for a corporate mid-level manager when I am already coaching his boss?
A: You may accept this contract if you think that you can maintain an objective stance and confidentiality with both clients. You can discuss in general terms with the first client how he would feel about coaching someone else in the company. Be aware it could present a conflict of interest while coaching, however, in hiring and firing decisions, etc.
Q: If I am an Internal Manager, should I coach someone if I also have input into the performance evaluation?
A: This would appear to be a conflict of interest, and you should probably not coach this person. You may use coaching competencies at any time, such as Active Listening and Powerful Questioning, etc. However, because you are the Manager, the fact that you are going to be evaluating your employee might inhibit openness and trust in the relationship.
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!
Warm regards, Vicki Escudé
VICKI ESCUDE, M.A., MCC, Mentor Coach, is a pioneer in the coaching profession, promoting the professionalism of coaching to several areas of the country 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, Fast-Track Leader digital electronic series through Get to the Point Books.