Values In Coaching

Values.

People have them; family, community, humour, honesty, integrity…

Companies have them too, though they tend to get muddied up by marketing messages and corporate jargon.

Coaches have values too, whether they are full-time professional coaches or people within an organisation who have to juggle their normal jobs with a coaching role.

So, when a coach and a coachee are working together; given that both have their own values sets, and that they must also stay true to the company’s values, whose values are most important? Which values should take precedence over the others?

Certainly, a coach should be imposing ideas or processes onto their client, but is it also ‘against the rules’ to try to impose values?

Or how about when the company’s espoused values clash with those of the coachee? Which has precedence then, given that the company may well be paying for the coaching to take place, and may even have instigated the intervention?

Perhaps the first step in ensuring that a conflict doesn't arise is for the coach to first explore the values and priorities of the client, as this will allow the coach to pre-empt any potential issues that might arise with the values of the employers.

An initial process might be to have the coachee define a value; say, honesty and openness, then to establish by means of a metric - maybe a score out of ten, how important this is as an outgoing value (in other words, how important is it to the coachee that he or she be honest and open with others) and then to score how important the same value when it’s incoming - from their employer, or colleagues, or whoever.

Going through this for a coachee’s own values gives the coach a firm understanding of how the coachee interacts with others in relation to the values that they hold most dear, and allows the coach to work on those aspects of the client’s life that might be out of balance or liable to cause emotional or intellectual damage.

Lindsay West’s book Coaching With Values is an excellent source for more detailed examination of the importance of understanding a client’s value system and working with it to achieve great results.

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