Leaders as Coaches: Towards a Code of Ethics

Publication Details

Milner J, Milner T, McCarthy G, da Motta Veiga S. Leaders as Coaches: Towards a Code of Ethics. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. January 2022.


Building on the relational leadership model, this study investigates ethical leadership in the context of “leaders as coaches.” We used a critical incident technique to identify ethical issues that occur when leaders act as coaches in the leader-follower relationship. Findings show seven ethical issues, namely, definition ambiguity, conflict of interest, confidentiality, power imbalance, freedom to participate, boundaries and favoritism. These ethical issues take a two-edged form for leaders as coaches, given the complexity of the leader-follower relationship. The increasing prevalence of managerial coaching makes it important to pre-empt ethical issues where possible and address any that arise, in order for an organization to become or continue to be an ethical organization. A proposed code of ethics, specifically for leaders as coaches, could accompany organizational change initiatives.



Link to publisher version (DOI)