Ever wonder how high performance teams and BOLD leaders became successful? While there are multiple factors, one of the keys that accelerates performance is coaching. Leaders and teams who leverage coaching create breakthroughs that, in turn, realize results faster and more effectively than teams and leaders who do not.
So, how does it work, and how do we create it for free? Peer coaching. When leaders want to change or transform what they are doing or how they are operating, the likelihood of success is lower when they do it themselves. One study on weight loss found that those who shared their journey doubled their weight loss versus those who did not. However, when we have a buddy, ally, or someone who is at stake for our success, there is a much higher likelihood that we will feel supported, realize our objectives and maximize our potential.
What is Peer Coaching?
The definition of coaching from the International Coaching Federation is “partnering with others in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their potential.” In the group I lead at The Conference Board which comprises leaders of Coaching and Leadership Development, they refer to “big C” coaching (when formally trained coaches conduct the practice of Executive Coaching) and “little c” coaching (when leaders are trained in the skills of coaching).
Peer coaching is enabling “little c” coaching of peers helping each other. In typical leadership teams, this role is often seen as the manager’s role. In our BOLD research, 57% of respondents say coaching is important or very important to them, and only 37% say they receive it. High performing teams leverage this role to be played by multiple “coaches” on the team, accelerating development, horizontal leadership, shared ownership, and enables the leader to get out of the weeds and elevate their leadership.
Coaching is based on a strong foundation of Trust. If you start your relationship with trust, you will need to maintain it. If you don’t have strong trust, you will need to build it (this article and tool on Trust can help). Either way, both parties practicing Real Talk (candor and vulnerability), Real Listening (openness and receptivity) will accelerate the level of trust between you. If there is anything getting in the way of feeling safe, that is critical to address upfront. It goes without saying – and to underscore it anyway – that coaching is based on trust and 100% confidentiality.
3 Critical Coaching Tips
Ideally, leaders are taught and practice basic coaching skills. Here are a few basic principles and skills we cover when we are preparing leaders for Peer Coaching:
1. Keep the focus on the person being coached: most people unconsciously “steal the conversation.” When it comes to coaching someone, it is 100% about them. This is hardest when you can relate or worse, have the same issue. Get in the headspace of curiosity and laser focus on them. You will likely forget throughout the conversation. Practice building the self-awareness to notice when you are making it about you, and refocus on the other person. This is usually where leaders remark that they are surprised at how hard this can be to do it well.
2. Trust they have the answer, not you: Most leaders have an overused strength of being brilliant problem solvers, and it often comes from a genuine desire to help. That is advice, not coaching. Coaching is based on the principle that they have the answer within them, and your job is to help them discover it. If you have the answer, that’s advice. If they come to the answer on their own with your guidance, that’s insight, which is where breakthrough happens.
💡 When you want to give advice, STOP!
P-erceptions and follow it up with a question back to them about what they think.
- Practice the skills: Listening Skills are the most important, most underutilized skill for inspiring leadership. Deep listening, practiced consistently, has the potential to build trust, strengthen relationships and support others, in all areas of your life (especially teenagers!) It is not to be underestimated and belongs on every leader’s development plan. Coaching Skills are also important to practice. The skill of asking great questions sounds easy and in reality, most leaders say they are so used to providing input that questions don’t come naturally to them.
If you would like more peer coaching tips and a checklist we give clients for the first peer coaching conversation, please click here and we can share with you.
- What matters most to me to get the full value out of a peer coaching relationship?
- What challenge am I facing or commitment have I made that would benefit me from focusing on with my peer coach?
- What do I need / want from my peer coach to feel 100% safe and inspired to be in a peer coaching relationship with them?
Please feel free to reach out to me and my team if you’d like to connect about how to apply these ideas, to help members on your team navigate these conversations, or to discuss the biggest current challenges you are facing today.
Wishing you good mental, physical, emotional and social health.
Remember to find resources to inspire you here.
Yours in practice,