What does Coaching mean to me? Who do i wish to project as a Coach?
All my life i have talked. I have rarely listened. Even when i pretended to listen, i was preparing my rebuttal. It was important that i convince the listener of my point of view.
On occasions i have inspired others by my actions. That was due to the courage of my convictions. I had polarized views about life. I saw black and white, where others could see shades of grays. Those who shared my views and found i had the courage to walk my talk, perhaps foolishly, supported me.
Equally, there remained many whose views opposed mine. What i considered unethical, they found realistic. When i differed and on many occasions opposed what i considered unethical, responses varied from scorn to downright venom.
If i believed in walking the talk, over time i found it prudent to talk less, so that i needed to walk less.
As a Coach i ought to talk less, be less judgmental and respond to what the Client asks for. My own views about the world and what the Client ought to do in this world, As one leader in a teleclass put it, if the Client does not want the ethics of what he proposes to do enter the discussion, the Coach has no business bringing it up.
Where does one draw the line? Where does ethics cross the line of legality? If a client proposes to do something illegal, what does the coach do? Exaggerating to the extreme, what if the Client belongs to a terrorist group and plans to blow up part of your city or someone else’s? Does the Coach’s code of conduct enforce silence?
What is unethical may not be illegal.
Hurting someone else by words is not illegal, unless it crosses the boundaries of slander and defamation. However, for many this goes against their value systems. In most professional environments, this would work against one’s business interests. At least from a practical perspective, if not from an ethical one, it may be better to hold one’s tongue.
On the other hand, what may seem the right thing to do and seems ethical may land one in legal soup. When a client asks for help and you assure him your full support, if the client construes that a guarantee of a workable solution and it does not materialize, you may be in trouble as a coach. Your intentions may have been very honorable, meant to boost client morale.
An implicit promise to deliver followed by failure to deliver could be sufficient grounds for a breach of contract suit in many locations. It behooves a coach to be careful with his/er implied guarantees and promises. The coach would need to look at other options to motivate the client.
A good coach walks with active listening and and silence as powerful tools. A good coach uses words as punctuation.