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October 4, 2011

Supporting Leadership through Peer Coaching

Through leading the second convening with a focus on leadership, Rockwood Leadership Institute is excited to be one of the faculty partners of the Move to End Violence Initiative. Building off the first convening on Vision and the intersession work on Self-Care and Strategic Thinking, the second convening deepened the connection among cohort members and created the space for reflection on individual leadership within the context of the movement.

The second convening’s design was based on Rockwood’s Art of Collaborative Leadership, an  intensive training designed for leaders to enhance their skills in the areas of both leadership and collaboration, including an examination of power, strategy and performance and self-care.

Over the eleven years Rockwood has offered our programs, people have left our trainings with important breakthroughs in their leadership and change work. From clarifying their life purpose to expanding their organizational programs, to strengthening their relationships with their teams back home.

Our experience has taught us that optimizing the insights and learnings from any training experience requires intentional practice and support. As we shared with cohort members on our last day, the training high often wears off as they move back into the pace of all the work of their organizations. For this reason, the peer coaching partnership, which is arranged on the final day of the convening, becomes all the more important to ensuring the integration and application of what was gained over the course of the week.

Whether you are a cohort member or not, peer coaching is a tool you can engage in for your leadership support and development.

We hear time and time again the challenges of leading – the isolation, the responsibility, the workload. Peer coaches intervene in these leadership challenges by serving as a sounding board, by keeping you accountable to your commitments, and sometimes by helping you prioritize.

Peer coaching works well when both partners make a clear commitment to the process. This means setting and keeping time set aside for this exchange of support, and coming prepared to receive and give support to another leader.

While getting advice or hearing about another leader’s experience can be valuable, peer coaching, and coaching in general, is a process to support the leadership and power of the “client” to reach their goals.  A peer coach asks questions to enable the coaching partner to consider different perspectives, discard irrelevant history, and engage in self-assessment – open ended questions that allow the coaching partner to explore their challenge further (as opposed to elaborate on the story) are ideal.  Some useful questions, that support a peer coaching partner during a session might be:

  • What would you like to be different when you leave this session?
  • What outcome would like from this session?
  • How do you know that this is accurate?
  • What other factors are relevant?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • What could you do to change the situation?
  • What are your next steps? When precisely will you take them?

Effective peer coaches actively listen to their partner – being mindful about how much space they, as a coach, are using.  Silence is common and necessary for “clients” to come to their own best thinking.

Art by lizar_tistry