It’s time to ask different questions.
Traditionally, coaching is considered a technology or modality geared toward individual development. This is not surprising, considering that western culture is steeped in the values of individualism and meritocracy:
You get to a certain level based on the effort you put in.
If you’re not getting there, you need to make a change in attitude, belief, behavior or effort.
This focus on the individual perpetuates the belief that the problem or obstacle (and thus the remedy) is within the purview of our clients.
If you’re not reaching your fullest potential, work on your confidence!
Improve your interpersonal skills!
Address imposter syndrome!
Get assertiveness training!
Write it down, make it happen!
What if our questions shift from “How do you need to adjust?” and “What do you need to work on?” to “How are the systems and power structures you are operating within creating obstacles for you?”
This shift alone can create trust and profound connection between coach and client. Conversely, however, directing a client inward when the problem is external is invalidating and harmful and will leave them feeling alienated.
Let’s go back to the concept of imposter syndrome. In a recent article, “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome,” the authors Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey, write about the impacts of expecting folks with marginalized identities to be a “good cultural fit” in organizations when the organization culture does not value and validate them. An erosion of confidence in the workplace does not happen in a vacuum. They write:
The once-engaged Latina woman suddenly becomes quiet in meetings. The Indian woman who was a sure shot for promotion gets vague feedback about lacking leadership presence. The trans woman who always spoke up doesn’t anymore because her manager makes gender-insensitive remarks. The Black woman whose questions once helped create better products for the organization doesn’t feel safe contributing feedback after being told she’s not a team player. For women of color, universal feelings of doubt become magnified by chronic battles with systemic bias and racism.
For helping professionals who are paying attention, it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot address individual development without addressing critical components that are typically left out of coach training programs: social identity and an understanding of how these identities are impacted by systems.
Without deep grounding in diversity, equity, and inclusion, a coach in the western world is almost certainly going to tend to reinforce dominant norms. Not only does this perpetuate unjust systems and practices, it effectively blocks new ideas, new solutions, and authentic individual expression.
At Inclusive Life, we are not here for that. We are not standing for business as usual or diversity trainings that do nothing to disrupt existing power structures. We are here to create a liberatory foundation for our practices and raise the standards within our industries.
If you agree, join us for the Inclusive Life Coaching Certification.
Constructing a liberatory foundation for your coaching practice will help you expand your perspective and deepen your empathy so you can believe your clients’ lived experiences and hear what they need.
The IL Coaching Certification program will help you:
- support your clients in the wholeness of their identities
- deepen your capacity to understand how systems of oppression impact your clients
- develop capacity to connect across differences
- experience transformation
- provide desperately needed leadership your industry
We need more voices in the helping industries that are thinking about these issues and doing this important work. And our clients are moving in the direction of equity and inclusion. The forward motion is toward inclusion and belonging. It is toward cultural competency and cultural humility. Step with us into this movement.
If you want to move in the direction of inclusion and equity, we– and the Inclusive Life Coaching Certification– are here to support this transformation. Let’s link arms.