It is Important to Discover Your Client’s Core Values

Presented to: Noble Manhattan Coaching
Presented by: Muhammad Salman Anjum
Date: November 17, 2014

  1. Introduction

Client’s values are what they deem important and can include concepts like equality, honesty, education, effort, perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness…etc. Client’s values are very much personalized and they affect them at a deep subconscious level. Every decision they make is based on their values and either they use them as avoidance or for aspiration. It is important for coach to elicit client’s core values to let them decide about their goals based on their core values and also to aware clients about their motivators and de-motivators.

  1. Values

A value is “a moral principle or accepted standard of a person or group”, and a principle is “the distinction between good and bad or right and wrong”. These distinctions about right and wrong are made by us – the value and principle holders.
Client’s values define, to an extent, who they are, and how they will relate to the world around them and the people in it.

  1. Core & Secondary Values

Values can be split into core values and secondary values.  Client’s core values help them to resolve any hidden conflicts, remove stresses and give them a firm direction in life. Ultimately these values are important for helping them move towards solutions and away from problems.
Their secondary values are the values that they bring to the fore to use when certain situations for arise.  E.g. Client might make himself suddenly more ‘available’ because he has a friend in need and this loyalty is something of client’s value.

  1. Why Eliciting Client’s Core Values is Important

Values are important driver of behaviour. The judgments humans make are often related to their values: whether they support a political party or policy, or what media we engage with. Let’s examine some of the important areas where coaches can contribute their clients by creating awareness about core values.
a)    Decisive Decision Making
The purpose of core values is very simple: To help someone filter his/her choices.  A filter lets through certain things and strains out other things. Choices present themselves in our thinking all the time.  If coach does a good job drilling down to client’s authentic core values, it will guide the client to choose without even thinking about it. . Without knowing & incorporating core values clients live by reaction, rather than response.
 b)    Extended Self-Awareness
Client’s core values are the rudder that guides their life. If they have not identified their core values they are either floating without direction or wasting all sorts of energy trying not to drown or lose their balance.  They must not be feeling fulfilled in their life and where they are headed.
Once coach & client have a list of core values, the client will be able to understand his/her life to date far more clearly. They will understand why they did what they did, why they gravitate to certain situations and people. Why some things were miserable and others made them sing. And with that new clarity they will also be able to assess new opportunities faster, and more accurately, and the certainty they find will allow them to commit more fully to the effort and resilience it usually takes to make real, lasting happiness appear in their life.
Clarified values help them hold to the standards they have set for themselves. Knowing their core values allows them to stop reacting and start responding to life. They will confidently respond to opportunities that align with their values and easily filter out the rest. It shift their life from satisfied to truly fulfilled living.
Coach should cultivate raising their awareness of core values in their moment-by-moment existence, and look for opportunities – even tiny ones – to better align their life with their core values. Over time, increased happiness is the inevitable result for the clients.
c)     Aligned Goal Setting
People set goals, write them down, set dates, ask people to hold them accountable and research says most of them don’t achieve them. Core reason is that those goals are not based on the values. Coaches must pay attention to client’s core values as it’s important that clients select goals which align well with their core values. Values and goals must complement each other for client to be effective. So clearly eliciting core values is pre-requisite of goal setting. Setting value based goals give client the WHY for setting those goals. It would help the coaching process to avoid wasting time on non-aligned goal achievement.
Secondly, even if client dose achieve goals that aren’t set in alignment of value system, they will not feel fulfilled. Over the years I’ve observed that those who experience the greatest levels of fulfillment and personal satisfaction have aligned their goals with personal values.
The prime benefit of having goals based on core values is that whenever there would be difficult time in the process of achieving goals, people persist and keep going only with goals that are based on their value system. It gives them natural pull and they don’t feel pushed towards achievement of those goals. At the same time client enjoy the process of goal achievement as it is the path taking them towards their values. For example the goal to have hour long work out session everyday becomes “a way of life” if health and fitness are among the core values of client.
Here is wonderful take on this issue of value based goal setting from Russ Harris:
“If you are living a goal-focused life, then no matter what you have, it’s never enough.  Not so with a values-focused life, because your values are always available to you, no matter what your circumstances.”
d)    Better Relationships
In relationships, just as in every other aspect of life, the spirit and attitude with which clients do things are as important as their actual actions. They live with more integrity, honesty, compassion and enthusiasm when they embrace and incorporate their values in their relationships.
One way you truly know what your values are when they are violated. The foundation of rift in relationship is the intentional or non-intentional violation of your values from other party in relationship which could be your partner, relative or friend. Like when a key partner betrays your trust.
In relationships shared values are more important than shared interests. Despite being quite different people, the main reason why any relationship thrives is because there is a deeper level of shared values that keep the relationship solid and incredibly compatible.
Here are some powerful questions that coach can ask the client for enhancing the quality of client’s relationship:

  • Which of your values does your partner share? Which values conflict?
  • How does your partner support your values and how do they violate them?
  • Switch seats – how does your behavior impact your partner’s values.
  • How does your family interact with your values and vice versa?

Values mismatch is the biggest cause of angst, dissatisfaction and conflict in relationships. Coach can play a positive role when finding out that there are a few value mismatches, coach can aware client by knowing that a lack of value alignment which is present and creating issues. This will make them understanding that their partner is coming to them from the perspective of a different personal value; it can explain a lot about how they respond or react to certain situations and make it easier to resolve differences.
e)    Professional Benefits
Many professionals today are struggling due to economics and a variety of other reasons. Yet it is not just the economy that is causing those professionals to fail. It is the professionals themselves.
When clients don’t know or lose sight of their core values, they and their professionalism fall into the trap of listlessness and ambivalence. They choose the wrong career or job perhaps under the influence of other’s core values. This wrong selection later causes lack of fulfilment in that career or job, which results into poor productivity. There are also situations when the core values of individual don’t match with the core values of the organization.
If clients want to have more hope of reaching their professionalism height they need to discover or restore their core values, then use these core values to drive them forward. Coaching for eliciting & using core values can bring client’s career to greater success.
Following are some of questions that can lead clients to discover or restore core values and then use them effectively for sustainable professional success.

  • Complete this sentence. “Your professional life is incomplete without ____________?”
  • What were some of the core values that influenced you to choose this career or job?
  • What are core values of your organization that you share in common?
  • What are core values of your organization you extremely disagree with?
  • What about your job and your colleagues; how do they interact with my values?
  • What are your motivators & de-motivators at work?

Same goes with if the client is an organization. Without articulating a set of core values organizations have no chance of creating a “purposeful work-culture”.There is a strong need for core values to be at the center of corporate decision making. As an executive coach you can help them discover/restore and then use the organizational core values to raise the motivation level among employees, discipline them, align the corporate goals & objectives to core values, set strategies to effectively create the environment that realizes the full potential of the people in thy organization.
Awareness & focus on core values lead professionals or organizations into win-win situations while negotiations. Similarly core values form a firm foundation for evaluating opportunities & problem solving situations and help them to pro-actively prevent future crises.
f)     Changing Negative Values
Only constant in life is change. Values are not held rigidly, but are continually changing. We’re having new experiences that shape our worldview. As our core values are a part of us, that means they are always shifting as well. “As each situation in life represents a challenge and presents a problem for to solve; the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed.
Following are couple of impactful questions that coach can use for letting client evaluate his value system.

  • Which of your values serve you well – and which cause you problems?
  • Do you carry any values which you should re-examine and perhaps change?

While answering these, client would come across something he/she didn’t expect.  Client might realize that there is a core value that client doesn’t really like, or that isn’t helpful for the kind of life client wants.  What then?
If you as coach empowers client to switch their negative or unwanted values to positive ones, it will change the priorities of their entire life. Their actions, their ultimate destiny. It changes the way they look at life. For example if client been a lazy and not bothered about quality of work. Start incorporating values of hard work and care about quality work in their life. The root of the word “incorporate” is the Latin corpus, which means body.  To incorporate something is to give it a body, to give it presence in the world.  Values that “get a body” get repetition, which get imprinted in their mind as part of core value system.

  1. Conclusion

Core values are the foundation for virtually everything that clients do. By eliciting their core values to them and then letting them focus on their core values with laser intensity and an ever deepening knowledge and awareness of who they are and how they operate in the world – they will become more of the best of who they can be; they’ll get better results from the things they’re already doing; they’ll do new things that they never dreamed they could do; and they’ll get rid of problems that have plagued them and that they thought were unsolvable. Let your clients discover their core values, learn from them, let them embrace the ones that serve them, and empower them to move away from the ones that do not serve. You as coach can make life of client much better when they live it “authentically”.


Who are you by Chris Wesley
Values & Beliefs by Beverly Symonds
Live Your Values by Jeff Turner
3 Benefits of Honouring Your Values by Shandel Slaten
Body of Work by Pamela Slim
Re-evaluating Your Values by Steven Aitcheson
30 Days to Kick Start Your Life Change by Mark Bowness
Russ Harris


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