Monday, April 4, 2011

Exercising your ethics muscle

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2011 by International Coach Federation

How often are you taking the time to exercise your ethics muscle by reflecting on your coaching against a code of ethics? During International Coaching Week (ICW), 7-13 February 2011, coaches from around the world took part in the ICF Pan-European Ethics call to do just that.

ICW takes place in February every year and exists to promote the coaching profession and educate the general public about the value of working with a professional coach. These activities also focus on the coach and their development, like the ICF Pan-European Ethics call.

As you read this, what may occur to you is what does a ‘professional coach’ mean? For a start, it can mean that we have clear contracts with our clients, ensure confidentiality and no conflicts of interest and exemplify professional conduct of the highest standards. Reading the ICF Code of Ethics, you find these concepts are elaborated on so that, as a coach, you know what the expectations of a ‘professional coach’ look like in practice. This is particularly important as many of the dilemmas we experience with our clients and the organisations we work with can often be traced back to ethics.

When we experience an ethical dilemma, a toned ethics muscle enables a repertoire of responses and facilitates agility in choosing among them. A ‘repertoire of responses’ is apt as there is often no right or wrong answer. Also, as individuals we have to be congruent with how we are in these moments. It’s a very individual experience – all the more reason to take advantage of opportunities to debate these dilemmas amongst peers.

A toned ethics muscle instils professionalism in what we do. It enables us to build trust with our clients. It differentiates us in the marketplace. It allows us to understand what is important to us, our own boundaries and what we are willing and not willing to do.

To give your ethics muscle a workout in a confidential and non-judgemental space, join the ICF Pan-European Ethics calls. They will take place on 4th May, September and December. More information can be found at

These calls are ICF members only, to become a member of the ICF, go to

Written by Barbara Babcock (member of UK ICF)Owner at b2c2 - Barbara Babcock Coaching & Consulting - Executive coaching for corporates, charities and individuals specialising in career and inter-cultural/ expatriate coaching.

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