Try this exercise:
From the list below, choose 6 values that immediately jump out to you:
Now rank your top 6 values onto three levels:
Level 1 – start by choosing only one value – your gut feeling of what’s most important to you
Level 2 – next, choose two values that sit under level 1
Level 3 – finally, choose three values to sit underneath the others
Here’s an example:
- Openness, Service
- Compassion, Honesty, Empowerment
Congratulations, you just created a values pyramid. A hierarchy of what’s important to you.
But the question is….
How do you turn values into action?
We posed this question to 2008 Olympian Laura Turner-Alleyne, lead coach at West London Track & Field (bio | twitter | LinkedIn).
Although we set the values as coaches, we ask the athletes for their perceptions and interpretation of the values. We give them space to decide what the values mean to them.
I adjust my behaviours to match situations. So, for example, the more gruelling the training, the more light-hearted I make my communication. I want the values of precision and excellence to come through in the training session while I also respect how each person is feeling that day.
I recognise the responsibility I have as a coach to have an impact. For me, impact comes about through bringing our values to life day to day through meaningful interactions. That could come from something as small as positive feedback to an athlete that leaves them happy or calling a person after training because I noticed they feel a bit down or just offering opportunities to talk things through.
When I recognise an open straight-talking athlete I make sure to ask them off-line about my behaviours. I ask for really honest feedback and we talk through their feedback about the extent to which my behaviours align to the values. I ask them, how do you want me to be?
When I think back to the coaches I had as an athlete, I realise their greatest impact on me was that I could retire as an athlete and function in the real world afterwards.
The bigger picture is, we want to leave a legacy of young people who develop as a person, not just becoming the best athletes they can be. We want to help them navigate the big wide world.
A lot is made of coaching behaviours – the set of actions and choices that leads us towards achieving a coaching goal. But what if those behaviours are out of alignment with what’s important to us?
A clear set of defined coaching values can serve as a compass that keeps your coaching on track. A point around which you can orientate yourself.
3. Misaligned values leads to stress and burnout
Many coaches complain of being overworked. The sheer hours of a professional coach or the after-work hours of a time-poor volunteer coach can really add up, leading to fatigue and irritable behaviours.
But there’s nothing more draining than coaching in a way that is misaligned with our values, our sense of what’s right. That’s the stuff of burnout and quitting.
- Describe your ideal coaching in three words?
- To what extent are your coaching behaviours aligned with your personal values?
- What external pressures do you face that cause misalignment of behaviour with values?
Join a movement of difference makers
We’re on a mission to help coaches use sport as a movement for good (not bad).
Our short weekly emails pose questions that will help you to understand your coaching, understand yourself and understand the people you coach.