Imagine sitting down to a meeting with a coach and being asked to discuss your personal and professional goals. What would you need to have in place to be comfortable in disclosing your goals? What would you need to know about the coach to make this a comfortable conversation where you felt safe and confident in sharing this information?
Most people would agree that confidentiality would be a critical factor. Professional, leadership, and executive coaches need to able to provide confidentiality for their clients. After all, some of these conversations are going to focus on areas of weakness for the client, or at least areas where the executive wants to make a change and improvement in some aspect of their career, interpersonal relationships, or in their communication with others.
Confidentiality in Coaching
Coaches working with executives, leaders, or even in life coaching situations offer a level of confidentiality and privacy to their clients that extends to all types of communication between the client and the coach. This includes text messages, emails, written communication, or during regular coaching sessions.
The knowledge that the information shared by the client is confidential and is not shared by the coach is fundamental to building a trust relationship. If a leader or executive had to worry about the information and the issues raised in coaching getting out to employees, colleagues, or the senior leadership, it would limit the freedom to talk about challenges, difficulties, and issues that the clients wants to acknowledge and change.
At the same time, it also provides the freedom for the entire coaching conversation. The coach is able to ask questions and to highlight potential blind spots or inconsistencies in the client’s thoughts, actions, or goals, helping to identify areas of potential future growth. If the coaching process did not offer confidentiality, it would be very difficult for the coach to bring up these issues and expect any meaningful discussion with the client.
This trust relationship does take time to grow and develop. However, an experienced coach has the skills and the ability to ensure privacy and confidentiality from their first interaction with the coachee (client) through to their last conversation.
The coaching contract, which is reviewed and signed by both the coachee and the coach, spells out the confidentiality as well as any exceptions to confidentiality. With a clear understanding, the relationship starts out with a level of trust that builds over time and throughout the coaching process.