Coaching Competencies: Ethical Guidelines


Coaching Competencies –Ethical Guidelines

By Nancy Zentis, Ph.D., IOD

What coaching competencies help great coaches become successful? 

Practicing ethical coaching guidelines is the most important competency you can have.  Honesty, integrity, and accurately representing your skills and experiences as a coach are a close second.  Recognizing the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest such as in roles, relationships, and compensation are critical to building a successful client relationship.

It is imperative to demonstrate highly professional conduct with clients.  You can effectively model ethical coaching practices by:

  1. Explaining to the client the ethical coaching practices that you will adhere to
  2. Maintaining confidentiality at the highest level
  3. Creating a clear contracting agreement that ensures the client understands the nature of the coaching, terms of agreement, fees, and limits of confidentiality
  4. Setting fees fairly for the client and yourself, and other coaches in the industry

Recognize culture differences and understand that your own cultural biases may limit your ability to effectively coach your client, unless you have understanding of their cultural preferences.

Limit your personal relationships with clients and set boundaries.  Respect the client’s right to terminate the coaching relationship and offer resources if the client would be better served by another coach.

Have a clear agreement which states the conditions in which confidentiality will not be maintained.

Honor your need for continued coaching development.  Stay current with best practices to hone and maintain your coaching skills.  When appropriate, support other coaches to demonstrate the ethical guidelines of our practice.

Support the coaching community by becoming a member of a Coaching Organization(s).  Share your coaching philosophy with others to support the global community.

Review these ethical coaching guidelines whenever you find yourself facing a difficult situation with a client and need to refresh your coaching conduct.

About IOD:

IOD offers an Executive Coaching Certification Program online to help coaches advance in their career and build their reputation as an effective coach. This program provides participants with the tools and skills needed to develop an integrated executive coaching strategy.

The Executive Coaching Certification Program (ECCP) is offered online over 8 months, 3 hours per month to maximize your development as an Executive Coach.  Each session is delivered through Go-to-training.  Our expert faculty provide interactive discussions, examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning.  For more information, visit our website:


Dr. Nancy Zentis is the CEO of Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning.  Send her a message at


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