Even the National Basketball League’s Most Valuable Player, Stephen Curry, one of the top athletes in the world, has Steve Kerr as a coach. Likewise, top executives also hire coaches. It’s important to remember: It’s not about the coach, it’s all about the executive and his or her team. The best executive coaches are in the business of focusing executives and their teams to help them get to where they want to go.

Where to Begin

It is important to focus on vision, strategy, and goals. However, these are end points, not the place to start. The starting point is establishing who the executive is and what he or she believes is important. It is surprising how few executive leaders and managers take the time for these fundamental questions before launching a career.

  1. The first step is to establish a foundation of personal values. Aristotle reminds us that “I am what I repeatedly do” and values are those principles and beliefs that determine our behavior—what we do. Remind your executive clients that their professional actions reflect who they are as people, citizens of the world, and models for their families and colleagues. Every decision they make reflects their personal values.
  1. The second step is to use their personal values as a template for making decisions. When faced with a business decision, does it pass the test of being consistent with the values that define an executive’s character? For example, will the decision withstand the integrity test, the honesty test, the caring test, or the trust test, if these are the values your executive proclaims?
  1. The third step is to use their values template for evaluating success and worth. This is the public test. If the executive decision and resulting impact were to appear on the front page of the New York Times the next day, would your executive be okay with that?
  1. Finally, your values-based coaching will focus your executives and create legacies for them that are consistent with who they are and what they will be proud of when they look back on their careers and accomplishments.

And, you, too, will establish your meaningful legacy as a values-based executive coach.