Insights & Tips

Peer coaching without the advice …

What a joy it was to experience leaders providing space for and asking questions to allow each other to do their best thinking in a #peercoaching session this week.

When leaders coach each other through leadership challenges it often looks a lot like leaders giving each other advice. The thing we know about this approach is that while the advice may be sound, it often doesn’t resonate for the other person or even if it does, it’s not acted on.

The alternative is to provide the environment for the leader to think deeply about the issue, perhaps move to understand the issue in a different way and eventually come up with their own response to the challenge. Drawing on the work of Nancy Klein and her aptly named process ‘Time to Think’, my peer coaching sessions do just this.

The result for the leaders I worked with this week was they were able to work through leadership challenges, draw on their own resources and come to their own conclusions about how to respond and they left the session feeling motivated to act.

Rather than advice giving, the ‘coaches’ listened carefully, didn’t interrupt, asked clarifying questions and at the end, offered their insights before asking the leader for their freshest thinking on the challenge.

It’s a simple process, challenging for some, yet provides so many opportunities for leaders to create better outcomes.

The questions that help unlock us …

Understanding the assumptions we make that drive us to behave in certain ways, is the beginning of freeing us up to behave in new and more effective ways.

When I’m coaching leaders (and sometimes whole teams) I often refer to Kegan and Lahey’s incredibly effective #immunitytochange process and ask leaders:

  • List all the things you do that ensure you WON’T achieve your goal.
  • What you would worry about if you did the opposite of each of those actions?

You can then begin to uncover the things you’re really committed to and, importantly, the assumptions you make about these things. Some of those assumptions will be true, others….well, maybe not so true any more!

How often do you look at what you’re trying to achieve and wonder what might be getting in your way? What questions would you like someone else to ask you?


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