Case Study: Conflicting Values Keep Your Clients Stuck
The Success Alliance


Case Study: Conflicting Values Keep Your Clients Stuck

Part of our role as mastermind group facilitators, coaches, and consultants is to help your clients who feel stuck and can’t make a decision.

In a recent mastermind group meeting, one member was struggling to decide what do to in a situation where four of her most important values were competing against each other.

To protect privacy, let’s call her “Sarah.”

Sarah’s Case Study

Here’s what Sarah put in her Prep Form for her hot seat:

1) My Ultimate Question:

  • I’d like to explore ways to deal with my business partner for the leadership training program we’re creating and delivering together. She is one of my longtime friends but does not show her commitment to our project in her actions (while she tells me she’s committed).

In essence, Sarah wanted to get many perspectives on her situation to make sure she was seeing it clearly. She also wanted to brainstorm several possible ways to deal with the situation.

2) My Backstory:

  • My partner and I are friends for many years through work. She invited me to take coaching training with her. We worked for the same coaching company as freelancers.
  • Last year, for the first time, we worked together to develop and launch the leadership training program.
  • We have different areas of expertise to bring to the table, so it seemed like a good partnership foundation to create a well-rounded leadership workshop.
  • We agreed on the revenue share formula based on each person’s time contribution to 4 categories: sales/marketing, content development, training delivery, and administration.

Through the hot seat prep planning process, I realize :

  • She relies on me for sales and marketing, and for proposal development.
  • She doesn’t spend enough time on her portion of the training material development.
  • During the previous delivery of our training program, she used up more time with off-the-cuff comments, making it hard to finish the session on time.
  • Some of her behaviors are not aligned with my values.

When I gave some feedback on my disappointment and expectation as a partner, she told me she’s been busy with her real estate investing business.

A couple of times I brought up my concerns to her about our partnership, she kept saying she’s committed but did not change her behavior.

When she brought a prospective company through her network, I told her she should deliver it since the client had a limited budget. She insisted that we should do it together, and she would not do it by herself.

How the hot seat prep and process helped Sarah

Through the hot seat prep and conversation with her mastermind group peers, Sarah became aware that she had four conflicting yet crucial values:

  1. She values this friendship.
  2. She values accountability and people keeping their promises. She wants to be able to rely upon people to do their share of the work.
  3. She values creating and delivering the best training programs she can.
  4. She wants to work with people who align with her values, both in the way the partnership relationship works, as well as the creation and delivery of training programs.

You can see how the first value can collide with the other three values. This is an important friendship for her and she’s known this person for a long time. Yet, her personal values and integrity demand that she produces and delivers an exceptional experience for her students. Plus, her expectation of sharing the workload needed to be adjusted in her own mind.

Facilitator Insight

When you are reading or listening to someone’s hot seat topic, pay special attention to where two or more values might be colliding. It could create a “stuck” place they can’t seem to resolve, and require both personal insight into the nature of the situation and creative, practical solutions. For instance:

  • A member who wants both to be seen as a mentor and thought leader nationwide – and can only work 10 hours a week right now because they are taking care of an ailing parent.
  • A member who wants to work out at the gym daily – and has a demanding job with long hours that gives them a lot of personal satisfaction. (Plus they value sleep!)
  • A member who desperately wants an expensive vacation – and wants to save money toward retirement.

Are you working with clients who are having difficulty making decisions? How do you help them to get unstuck?

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8 thoughts on “Case Study: Conflicting Values Keep Your Clients Stuck”

  1. Carol Ann says:

    Hi Karyn. Very interesting and I now I understand why I am stuck on a challenge.
    I love your commitment and focus on your work and I appreciate YOU??♥️??

    Thank YOU

  2. Karyn Greenstreet says:

    Thanks, Carol Ann. I’m glad the blog post helped you to see what’s keeping you stuck!

  3. KaTesha A says:

    Karyn, this was really good. Thanks for getting into the psychology of the hot seat and facilitator.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      As you know, KaTesha, what’s happening inside our heads affects our ultimate success. Mastermind group facilitators aren’t trained psychologists, but we can use an understanding of psychology and the role of values in decision-making. Of course, even if your mastermind group member knows why they’re stuck, that doesn’t mean they’ll quickly get unstuck. Insights is just one part of the equation — action is the other.

  4. Iñigo Sanchez-Cabezudo says:

    I work on making revisit their personal values and confront with empathy the situation. Values helps us guide our Purpose and our decision making process. When there is collision with our values, there comes the conflict. In this case, she is not going to jepardize friendship, she needs to stick to her values, reinstate accountability and set up boundaries

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Inigo, I think in this case, she’s afraid if she reinstates the accountability piece and sets boundaries, it will harm the friendship. However, if the friendship is long-standing and genuine, can’t we tell our friends how we are feeling about something without losing the friendship?

  5. Melissa P says:

    I’m curious how this case played out. Did any particular values take priority over the others by the end of the hot seat discussion? Did Sarah try confronting any limiting beliefs that might be holding her back from challenging her partner directly but kindly? Did Sarah try a thought experiment where she talked to her future self about the situation and how it was handled?

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Hi, Melissa,

      In the end, the two partners agreed to not work on the project together in the future and not co-teach the workshop together. Sarah’s values of doing high-quality work AND her value of keeping her friendship meant that there wasn’t another choice. By the time Sarah came to the hot seat, she had already spoken to her partner several times, but it did not engender any change in behavior. I’m not sure if Sarah ever did a “thought experiment” (she never mentioned it). What Sarah realized in the hot seat was that there simply wasn’t another choice if she wanted to stay in integrity, and the support she needed from the mastermind group was around confirming she was making the right choice and there wasn’t some creative solution that she just hadn’t thought of by herself.

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