We have adapted and redefined Carol Wilson's "Principles of Coaching" (2014), because traditional coaching, like everything else, is built on oppressive ideologies and upholds them without challenge or criticism. We have created a set of principles that hold us accountable to our own beliefs and ensure a quality of provision to all our coachees. These principles are true to who we are, bind us to our core beliefs and allow for a consistent radical approach across each sector we coach in.
Awareness is a loop of acquiring knowledge and understanding of the systems in place, how they interact and the coachee’s role within them. Awareness should be a self-sustaining cycle pushed by the coachee’s own curiosity and desire to improve.
Responsibility is using the awareness acquired to reflect on one’s own position, influence and complicity in holding up existing systems of oppression and harmful power dynamics. It is also a tool for radically reimagining one’s role within the world and how to reshape systems to be socially equitable and influence individuals towards justice. It is learning to reimagine their situation, responsibility and actions in the world.
Self-belief requires room for growth. Mistakes are used as moments for teaching, reflection and learning rather than ridicule. We encourage and celebrate in moments of success, which is whenever learning takes place. Self-belief in the social justice sense is ensuring that we are connected to our potential for growth and change through acknowledging actual growth and change.
Blame means that someone is responsible or partly responsible for a negative outcome. Social Justice Coaching normalises this open acknowledgement of negative outcomes and provides a safe environment to explore what caused them. The coaching interrogates what that blame looks and feels like for the person being blamed.
Thinking boldly, wildly, outside the boundaries of reality. Creating utopias that depend on multiple systems, truths and realities existing all at once. This gives space for interrogation of current truths and realities that intersect.
To be truly solution-focused (whether in or outside of the social justice approach) requires a full grasp of the magnitude/complexity of the problem(s). To not do so can result in "solutions" being inconsequential and short-lived at best and compoumding trauma at worst.
Discomfort is necessary for growth and so while the environment of social justice coaching is one of support and encouragement, it is also one that goes against our accepted norms for self, for others and ultimately seeks to disseminate power to the masses and dismantle the systems and structures that previously supported/were supported by consolidated power. Therefore discomfort must be a constant and consistent state.
Action is a responsibility that must come as a result of self-reflection born of awareness, effective challenge, radical imagination and Blame-safe learning.
Trust needs to be established early. But needs to be continually built, revisited and evolving. In social justice coaching, the relationship between the coach and coachee is one of comrades. So trust is paramount. Trust to fail. Trust to call each other in. Trust to be able to be vulnerable. Trust to not understand. Trust to not be your best.
One of the ultimate aims of coaching is to make the coach redundant. This should be true of all those claiming to be dedicated to liberatory work. To achieve this, the coachee (in this case) must be given the tools, space, awareness, curiosity and critical thinking to take ownership of their individual and collective responsibility, growth and positioning within both the existing and the future reimagined world.