In my first executive coaching session with a new client, I ask a series of questions to ascertain how clear my client is about their own values & beliefs. Some clients see this as a waste of their time as they believe they understand clearly their own values & beliefs. And to be fair, most do have a really clear understanding of their own values & beliefs.
The reason I enquire at the outset about values & beliefs is that many of the elements that come up in executive coaching require a choice or at the least a reflection, and to ensure that they fit they should be looked through the lens of their own values and beliefs. Values & beliefs are critical in helping us understand our motivations and in setting goals for whatever it is we want to do.
I recently had a client who was looking to expand their successful business. She had a meeting with a Venture Capitalist to secure funding for expansion. The meeting did not go well for her. She felt that the VC partners didn’t understand what she was trying to build, and just had their own specific way of building businesses, where as she was wanting to build a truly ethical business built on the basis of a compelling and clear ethical benefit.
In our discussions in the following days she was very clear on the benefit she had gained from taking the time to understand her own values & benefits, as it made it abundantly clear to her what was important and that influenced her choices in expand her business.
To help build awareness of values & benefits, I generally suggest reviewing a range of topics like friends, family, work and ask them to define those topics for themselves, and to understand what you invest in or not, what topics bring the most fulfilment, what bring you dissatisfaction, and then to focus on the goals they have achieved under each of the topics.
From all of this, I then work with clients reflecting upon what is important to them and also what this exercise tells them about their beliefs, and keep that to top of mind when we discuss the relevant topics in their executive coaching discussions.
In every case where I have expressly worked with clients on this exercise, they have found new “evidence” about their values & beliefs and it goes on to help them in helping them filter through their choices in making a change in their life.