When does a conflict of interest exist? - International Coaching Federation
COVID-19 Resources for ICF Coaches

When does a conflict of interest exist?

Posted by Vikki Brock | December 27, 2013 | Comments (7)

This is the fourth in a series highlighting ethics in coaching. Watch for new posts monthly!

According to the ICF website, Conflict of Interest is defined as follows:

A conflict of interest exists when you have an interest that interferes with your responsibilities as a coach or interferes with your ability to act in the best interest of the coaching profession. A conflict of interest may arise when you use your role as a coach for inappropriate personal gain or when personal interests conflict with your coaching agreement. Examples of conflicts to avoid include accepting or offering payments outside the coaching agreement, or having a substantial investment or position in any business to which you are providing coaching services. Coaches should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Further, the ICF Code of Ethics, item nine states: “I will seek to avoid conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest and openly disclose any such conflicts. I will offer to remove myself when such a conflict arises.”

Consider these two scenarios:
1. Upon purchasing a product or service, you are offered an affiliate arrangement whereby you will receive benefit (money or extras) if someone clicks through a link you provide.
2. You are a new coach and your mentor is offering a free webinar where you will receive a commission for everyone you sign up.

In the late 1990s the first scenario first appeared. Many coaches took the affiliate arrangements offered, not seeing them as a conflict of interest. After all, the people clicking through were generally non-clients and the benefits received were minimal. This perception changed around 2005 when affiliate arrangements became more widespread. All of a sudden, people were questioning whether this was a conflict of interest. While a few said no, many said that if the benefit received was clearly identified when the link was provided there was no conflict of interest. Still others said that all affiliate arrangements were conflicts of interest, whether disclosed or not. These disparate perspectives on affiliate arrangements may be accounted for in the values held by each person.

The second scenario has two potential conflicts of interest. One is about the new coach disclosing a commission arrangement, similar to the first scenario. The other is about a mentor who may benefit from a relationship with a client who is also a coach. The ICF Code of Ethics, item twelve states: “I will not knowingly take any personal, professional, or monetary advantage or benefit of the coach-client relationship, except by a form of compensation as agreed in the agreement or contract.” Thus, the mentor would be in violation of item twelve of the ICF Code of Ethics.

As you can see from these two scenarios, though some conflicts of interest are black/white, many are shades of gray. Bottom-line, a conflict of interest exists when you have an interest that interferes with your responsibilities as a coach and/or your ability to act in the best interest of the coaching profession. Knowing your personal values as well as the ICF Code of Ethics is critical for delivering coaching in an ethical manner. This includes conducting yourself in such a way that the appearance of conflicts of interest does not arise.

 

Vikki Brock

Vikki G. Brock, EMBA, PhD, MCC has been in private practice as an executive leadership coach and mentor for other coaches since 1995, following a twenty -one year corporate career. She defines coaching as 'raising awareness, so people are at conscious choice" and is committed to transformation at a global level. One third of her clients are international leaders committed to making a difference in their country. Vicki holds an Executive MBA, a PhD in Coaching and Human Development, ICF Master Coach Certification since 1998.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (7)

  1. Al Takata says:

    A high school baseball coach has son playing on his team. Is this a conflict of interest?

    • No says:

      He is in no way promoting his son’s performance as long as he treats all players including his son fairly. If his son is not paying any joining fee just because it is his son but all others are paying- that will be inappropriate

  2. Do the conflict interest? If your answer yes, identify

  3. Leslie Taylor says:

    Does the ICF have a conflict of interest in selling training and mentoring services, while also acting as a credential’ing body?

    • Hello Leslie, Thank you for the question. ICF does not sell coach training or mentoring services. ICF hosts a web platform, in which the public can find ICF Mentors. ICF accredits training program curriculum based of off a strict set of standards and does not sell or franchise coach training to the public.

  4. Roy Dennis says:

    Hi,
    We have a high school coaching staff that gets paid $5000-$6000 dollars to coach a local travel team with players from all different schools and any players that goes to the high school where these guys coach automatically makes the team. These coaches are not teachers or daily staff at the high school. They get paid $6000 from the school and they also charge players for private hitting or catching lessons through the travel team. Lots of parents feel that you have to pay to have your kid on the travel team or sign up for personal lessons just to get noticed by these guys. Would this be a conflict of interest coaching these few kids that pay to play on your travel team and then pick and choose who makes their high school team?

  5. No says:

    He is in no way promoting his son’s performance as long as he treats all players including his son fairly. If his son is not paying any joining fee just because it is his son but all others are paying- that will be inappropriate

Leave a Reply

Not a member?

Sign up now to become a member and receive all of our wonderful benefits.

Learn more