Values In Coaching

By Trudy Leijte

As a career coach you are looking for strengths with your client. Using one’s strengths in a career will contribute to a better match. But how about values? Values are expressed in behavior. Companies show their values more and more and to make a better fit it is good to know your own values.


Definition of Value

In general, values are important and enduring beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or desirable and what is not. Values exert a major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations (wikianswers.com). Sometimes clients ask for a quick way to find their values that really matter to them. Here are six questions which can help identify them quickly. Respond as spontaneously as you can. Have somebody else ask you the questions. Then scroll down to see what the questions/answers reveal.


Six Questions – Respond Spontaneously

  1. What value is so important that you would like to give it to your child or any child you dearly love, to have and learn?
  2. Which characteristic or value did your mother have that you didn’t like and what is the opposite of this value?
  3. Which characteristic or value did your father have that you didn’t like and what is the opposite of it?
  4. Which animal is your favorite and what does it symbolize or mean to you?
  5. What kind of music do you like and what does it symbolize to you?
  6. Describe a landscape and what it symbolizes to you?


What do these questions tell you?

Number 1 shows you your most essential value. This could be very important for you to find in your job, or put into your job.

Number 2 reflects a imbalance in your life; something you are struggling with almost like a pattern, aware or unaware.

Number 3 reflects a goal or an ambition you have in life. Very often this turns out to be an important and unconscious drive.

The animal symbolizes the source of power, of energy that drives you .

The music question is reflecting a certain theme in your life. You can see this as a challenge you’ll be exposed to every time. This part is very essential and often there are obstructive conceptions.

The landscape question expresses an essential (and sometimes unfulfilled) need.


Knowing this, how does this help you in your career choices?

Knowing yourself at a deeper level, means knowing your values, being aware of what is driving you, what you value, what you want in life, what you are struggling with etc. It makes a complete picture of who you are in your core. Knowing what drives you is essential to understanding your actions and making responsible choices, such as a career, job or other decisions. As a facilitator/career coach it is very important to know your own motives and values in a helping relationship; self insight is essential to help others. As a career coach it is important to know your own values. Why do we feel like helping all these clients? What do we get from being a coach? Are we satisfying our own needs or really trying to help somebody finding his true destination in work/life? Or both?


And how about this: we all have had this experience: a new client walks in, you start the conversation and you seem to react a little more defensively then you do with other clients. Is it something physical, the way he/she talks/behaves or the message being sent out?

It may become clear to your mind what it is that is bothering you with this client. Sometimes it takes several sessions, or you may not even be aware of what is happening. You feel tired after a session, or you are not looking forward to the next one, or you don’t see progress. Maybe you have to look for the reason in values. It might be that this particular client is showing, or talking about behavior that is in conflict with some major values you have. When you are aware of your own values you can address your feeling about this client. We don’t have to agree with his/hers values, but we have to respect them and work with them in order to be an effective coach.


Behavior Comes From What is Under the WaterlineIceberg Model 2

Going deeper, you might have an awareness of what is moving you from under the waterline. (Look at the iceberg model from McClelland). We can see the skills and the behavior of people on the surface, but for the underlying thoughts and values we have to dig deeper, under the waterline, which often is a dark spot of unawareness both for ourselves and for our clients. Coaching from under the waterline is where the movement in your client begins and a transformational learning process possibly starts.



Iceberg Model of Competencies (1973) by David McClelland




Trudy Leijte is a Career Coach with a private practice. She is from The Netherlands and has lived for 20 months in Midland, TX with her husband and two children. She has experience as an HR Manager and career consultant. She loves to help clients find their destiny in a career, or work on improving skills / behavior of employees and teams within a company to focus on authenticity and awareness. To become more proficient in career development within the United States she joined Linda Sollar’s class of the GCDF training in Denver CO. Email: info@trudyleijte.nl and website www.trudyleijte.nl

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