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Case Studies and Questions to Ask Yourself

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Like many things in life, we sometimes complicate the original intent. Of course we need ethical standards and systematized procedures for our profession of coaching.  And yet, using the Four Way Test provides a great shortcut and reminder that can help all of us avoid most ethical dilemmas.

Another Rotary principle is to “encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise.”  Once again, this reflects what we do as coaches.  We are in the business of serving … serving our clients’ greater good and more purposeful living, and serving the larger ideal of a more purposeful and loving world.  That is ethical and professional behavior!

The wisdom of this 100-year-old service club with millions of members worldwide is worth considering and embodying in your life and your business as a coach. (If you want to read more about the Four Way Test go to http://www.rotary.org/newsandinfo/downloadcenter/pdfs/502en.pdf.)

Here is a coaching scenario that exemplifies the ethical standard described above, and that also applies to the Four Way Test of Rotary.

Coach Carl has been coaching Client Carol for 3 months, when Carol asks Carl if he has experience with reviewing business and marketing plans.  She is at the point of her business that she feels she needs a coach/consultant to assist in the method and details required of such a formalized document.  Carl is a fine life coach and has helped Carol immensely in designing her life and business to be more fulfilling, to have more balance over her time and to delegate more in her business.  However, Carl really has neither formal experience nor training in designing business/marketing plans.

As an ethical coach, Carl tells Carol the truth that while he can help her get clearer on her vision and long term desired outcomes for the business she is in, he would refer her to a business advisor or consultant who specializes in the drafting business plans.  He tells her that he can give her couple of names and encourages her to ask around in her community.  Carl honestly tells her that even if she needs to stop the coaching relationship for a time, so that she can focus her time and resources with a new consultant, it would be ok with him.  His fair approach is to add that if she can afford the time and money for both him and a business consultant, then that is her decision. But, he says his goal for her is to get what she wants and he does not have the specific expertise for what she is requesting.  Carol thanks him and asks for a couple of names and says she will also ask around in her local group.  (This approach by Carl is also a clear example of several other ICF ethical standards regarding being honest about his level of competence and not implying outcomes that he cannot guarantee.)  Carl’s actions create more good will and more friendly relations with Carol; and they are beneficial not only to her, but to his reputation as a coach.

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