To gain trust with clients, consumers and colleagues, it’s important to demonstrate strong values. If you haven’t taken time to figure out the deep beliefs that drive you, it can be challenging to stay true to your own convictions, both at work and at home.
Discovering your values can help you realign personal and professional priorities in a way that will inspire you to keep going. To discover what your real values are so that you can base your behaviors, communications, activities and decision-making around them, you need to find a strategy and a system that works for you.
Below, a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members discuss 13 ways they’ve helped their clients discover their values and shift their priorities to better align with their internal value system.
When you become clear on your values, it’s as if you’ve opened a window into your soul, and for many of my coaching clients, the “aha” moments begin from here. Questioning your “why”—what you stand for and what you will and won’t tolerate—is critical in deciding where you invest your time. Through motivational interviewing and storytelling approaches, I help clients really identify their top five values. – Simi Rayat, Wellbeing Face Ltd
The essential goals are to gain clarity about one’s own values, link them to attitudes and behavior and take a better position in communicating values to other people. Use cards with values or pictures. The clarity gained provides orientation and a good feeling of coherence between values and behavior. This helps to shape the personal stages of life more consciously. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD
You can Google “personal values” and find a million results on how to do this. I find the easiest way to determine personal values is to walk through areas in my client’s life where there is friction. That friction comes from a value not being honored. Once we know where the values are, then we are able to really focus and make decisions around them. – Kate Peters, Bright Voyage Leadership
I work on the premise that values are essentially emotions that we want to experience. Asking clients what’s important to them at work would give you a response such as, “More money.” Ask why that is important, and they might say, “To have more luxury.” Ask why again, and it might be to experience an emotion such as “happiness.” The idea is to identify the top few values and align priorities around them. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting
Having clients look at an important point in their future (e.g., retirement, legacy, etc.) tends to naturally create realignment. Are the actions being taken today moving them toward their desired future? If so, what values are they living today that lean toward this future? If not, what is missing today that will leave them at peace? It’s about having clients get in touch with themselves. – Elizabeth Semion, Elizabeth Semion & Associates
Values are super important. They are the ideas or qualities that have great meaning to the client and what drives the way they “show up.” We support our clients with assessment tools, questioning, listening and reflection to discover and express what is important to them. Coaching for values is also impactful to support understanding of the overarching vision and purpose. – Carol Brown, 109
It’s not as obvious as picking from a list. Our values live in the “space between” what we think they should be and what they truly are. Pausing to take note during times of disappointment, frustration and even anger reveals the values most critical to you. Once revealed, leaders can not only identify and speak openly to others about their values, but can also actively make choices to align with them. – Angela Cusack, Igniting Success
Helping clients realign themselves with their values and with why they began doing what they are doing is key to their development. If they don’t know why they do what they do, it will be that much easier to lose motivation and give up. In examining why, you might find that what you’re doing isn’t about you at all, and thus, it has no real meaning for you. Either way, you will know where you are. – Dhru Beeharilal, Nayan Leadership, LLC
Regardless of the reasons why values get lost or out of alignment with priorities, having periodic assessments and real conversations with the client and/or leadership team helps tremendously to realign their values with their mission. The proactive approach is most desirable, especially after the organization’s rapid growth or M&A. Paying attention to the first sign of the misalignment is the best policy. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute
We use an exercise called “What’s Your Story?” and it is designed to surface those moments of truth in your life journey that inform what is most important to you (the nonnegotiables) and why they are important. When we understand where our values come from, then we can better articulate how we are prioritizing and making decisions and hold ourselves accountable to being our best selves. – Cyndee Blockinger Lake, Blank Page
A lack of clarity about one’s own values makes being authentic difficult. Without authenticity, it’s hard for those who need to trust you to know who you are. To discover your values, write down the things that are most important to you, not words but things. What makes those things important? The “why” in that answer is your value set. Know it and check that your work is aligned. – India Gary-Martin, Leadership For Life
A useful interactive and reflective exercise I often use is working through the different facets of my clients’ wheel of life and asking, “What do you value most in or about this facet?” The conversation moves deeper and more reflective, therein, but gets to the inner beliefs, values and expected traits within each. From there, designing a priority balance scale acts as a visual aid for improvement plans. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory
Values are present when you feel happy. Reflect on when you’ve felt most alive to uncover values. Next, review all activities to ensure they support your values. If not, ask, “Why do it?” Maybe you’ll still do it, but after it’s modified to align with your values. Finally, put time in your calendar for each activity so that they all get done. When activities are aligned with your values, you achieve your desires. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching