Values, Coaching and Leadership: Creating Space for Transformative Conversations

There may never be a better time to let our values guide the way we lead ourselves and others in challenging and uncertain times. At Saint Mary’s College of California, we believe attention to our highest values plays a unique and crucial role in developing our leadership potential, service and impact. For 20 years, our signature Master of Arts in Leadership program has helped people from their 20s to their 70s, and from all industry backgrounds, to bring cutting-edge leadership skills that help people foster better collaboration, contribute their unique visions, and skillfully navigate the complex and adaptive challenges our organizations and communities are facing.

Values: One hallmark of our program is our attention to each person’s unique constellation of high priority values via the Hall-Tonna Values Assessment. A pioneering global values framework, created by Brian Hall and Benjamin Tonna, provides a comprehensive theory spanning four phases of consciousness with an associated values survey instrument that measures value priorities at the individual, group, organization and community levels. Hall described values as “the ideals that shape and give significance to our lives … manifested in the priorities we choose, the decisions we make and the actions we take.” Each learner in the MA in Leadership program receives extensive one-on-one coaching with faculty to explore their values. As one learner recently remarked, “I’ve never had this kind of attention from faculty, anywhere.”

Values Coaching Accreditation: Our unique, only-at-SMC relationship with the Hall-Tonna Values Assessment has been pivotal in delivering on our values-laden and Lasallian mission. Through our Leadership Center, we offer a variety of learning opportunities designed to help people and their institutions expand their capacity for leadership and learning to better meet and address the unique challenges and opportunities in today’s world.

The Leadership Center has completed a five-month Values Accreditation program that prepares coaches, managers and people in leadership to administer the values survey to their own clients, teams and communities. In our new “Community of Practice” format, the accreditation participants were entirely made up of KSOE alumni and faculty, intent on re-engaging with the school and finding community for their learning.

As participant and KSOE faculty, ann masai, explains:

“I’ve found the Hall Tonna Values survey to be a wonderful tool to help people understand themselves at a deep level, revealing their core beliefs and assumptions.  I’ve been aware of Saint Mary’s Leadership Center and their various leadership capacity-building tools for years, and have seen many Saint Mary’s students grow in self-awareness and leadership skills as a result of their work with their values. This past summer, time opened up and I was finally able to take the Leadership Center Values Accreditation course. ... My experience was great.”

One of our values accreditation coaching mentors, Ann Marie Foley, shares her experience:

“The process of looking at values is about widening the understanding of self, with the larger systems of which we are a part. In looking at my ‘favorite’ values, what I noticed was that they each changed my self-narrative in honor of the ‘bigger’ me, my bigger life. Looking at values opens the door to expanding our understanding of ourselves, and others.”

Leadership Coaching: As coaching has become a more central and essential skill in leadership development, the Leadership Center offered three courses last year within this domain of Values, Coaching and Leadership:

  • Managerial Coaching: Helping People Be Their Best
  • Facilitating Change: Individual and Group Coaching
  • Values Accreditation: Fostering Transformative Conversations

As we move towards 2022, we envision combining these offerings into a broader coaching and leadership certificate. If one or more of these coaching offerings is of interest to you, please sign up here to receive more information. We continue to support one another in making space for transformative conversations, and invite you to join us.  In the words of the late Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”