The foundation for our decision-making


That was the word my client and I recently focused on during a meeting when I felt the power of coaching firsthand.

It was an interesting word choice because it seems to be one of the most common attributes I can pinpoint for effective leadership. It’s essentially the ability to pause, consider, and make an effort to understand how your interactions with other human beings affect recipients and the surrounding environment.  In other words, how your decisions affect others.

But awareness is one thing.  And the power of coaching often starts with awareness and turns into action. The nature of our conversation was for the client to understand how he could keep the level of awareness he had gained through our engagement.  What will be required of him to maintain this awareness and “leverage” it in the future?  What kind of process can he put in place to ensure he doesn’t “fall back” into old patterns or behaviors?


It was a very powerful discussion for a number of reasons:

  1. He did most, if not all, of the work. Coaching was at its peak, and I facilitated and followed his lead. He asked me for a process, and how he could maintain his progress going forward. But in the true spirit of coaching, I facilitated the discussion to bring his answers to life.

  2. The client realized that it was less about “process” (as defined in an operational context), and more about building a “foundation.” The primary question: What foundation is required to ensure the outside world doesn’t knock us over or “back” into our old patterns?

  3. And then we circled on a few words that highlighted it all – values and beliefs. We started in the abstract with what is required to maintain process and “awareness” in a work context. In other words, what do others do? But we ended with the “I” and “We”, with the client “completing” the sentence….This is important because…this is what I, or we believe.

The client was focused on process.  But what emerged was foundation.  Beliefs.  

That is what we need to be aware of.  That is how we know if we are staying true to ourselves.  What do we believe and why?  What do I or we stand for?  What does the company stand for?  How do all of these values and beliefs align?

In other words:  Who am I and who do I want to become?

That is foundation.  And while the elements and drama of the outside can push and pull us on a continuous basis, understanding that center is the rock that ultimately serves as our reference point.  How are these outside forces affecting what I or we believe?

And that is the power of coaching.  If we agree that our values and beliefs have been built over time and remain with us throughout our lives, continuously evolving, then our process for evaluation and decision-making is also well-defined.  It’s important to learn about processes that can help us in our decisions, but the foundation is what’s most important.  No tool or framework can replace what is inside of us – who we are and what we value and believe.