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Discussion 514 ethics and coaching


Step 1) Consider that ethical dilemmas are called that because there is often not one clear-cut answer for what is right and what is wrong. The coaching relationship is fraught with ethical dilemmas, including:

  • Emotional, behavioral, or personality issues with coachees (such as potential suicides or illegal acts)
  • Emotional, behavioral, or personality issues with the coach (prolonging the coaching arrangement for financial gain)
  • Failure to respect professional boundaries between coach and coachee (possible inappropriate personal involvement or abuse of power)
  • Conflicts of interest among various stakeholders (such as failure to keep confidential information from management)

Step 2) Read about the main ethical considerations governing coaches and coaching relationships in the following book found in the Trident Online Library. The authors propose a model for ethical decision-making in coaching—the ACTION model—specifically designed for people working in leadership coaching. Although written for professional coaches, leaders who coach subordinates in a mentoring role can benefit from using the guidelines in this chapter to shape their own behavior as well. 

Passmore, J., & Mortimer, L. (2011). Ethics in coaching. In G. Hernez-Broom, & L. A. Boyce (Eds.), Advancing executive coaching: Setting the course for successful leadership coaching (pp. 205-227). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass. 

Step 3) Read this classic article on the ethics of mentoring that specifically addresses ethical issues from the perspective of the imbalance of power between the mentor (or boss) and the subordinate.

Moberg, D. J. & Valasquez, M. (2004) The ethics of mentoring, Business Ethics Quarterly 14(1): 95-122.

Step 4) Below are several ethical situations a coach may have:

  1. Is it ethical to receive a “special” price for services or goods from a client or coachee?
  2. Is it ethical to date a client/coachee’s sister or brother?
  3. Is it ethical to buy a car from a client/coachee who owns the only dealership in the area?
  4. Is it ethical to ask a client/coachee for a ride to the airport?
  5. Are there circumstances where it would be OK to have a sexual relationship with a client/coachee?

When reviewing ethical situations, coaches should consider the following elements within the coaching relationship:

  • How much of a power differential is there between the coach and the other person? 
  • Will it be brief contact or will it be continuous or episodic contact over a long time? 
  • Has the relationship been permanently terminated, and does the client understand that as well? 

Step 5) Select one of the ethical situations from “a” through “e” above.

Step 6) Answer the following questions below using question and answer (Q&A) format; in other words, include the original question along with your response. Within your post, support your responses with information from the background materials or reputable outside sources, and provide the full citation at the end. Use APA format for your references. Bring in your own personal experiences, readings, and research, where applicable.

  • Which ethical situation did you select?
  • In your opinion, would this situation be unethical? Why or why not?
  • How does the element of power factor into your opinion?
  • How does the element of duration factor into your opinion?
  • How does the element of termination factor into your opinion?
  • Are you drawing on any particular ethical framework in formulating your response (for example, the ethical frameworks introduced in ETH501)? If so, identify what that is and cite your source.


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