The power of peer to peer coaching across the MAVA community

When we think of coaching we think of a one-to-one relationship, a place where we can discuss our life and leadership challenges with someone skilled enough to guide us to new insights.

Coaching is rooted in the idea that the person being coached ‘knows’ at some level the answer to their own leadership and life problems.   The coach uses skilled questioning to help the person they are coaching to find a way of tackling the situation that they face.

Peer coaching – where a group of people coach one another – is based on exactly the same principle, and it is remarkably powerful.  There are no ‘right answers’ to the complex leadership problems that we face but great questions, from our peers, can help to reveal the next steps.

Over recent weeks, MAVA, with the support of its partner Common Purpose, has been offering peer coaching sessions to its Partners through a series of online Leadership Forums.  Over 80 people have signed up to take part and we have run 5 sessions so far.  The feedback shows that 100% of people who have experienced one of the Forums (and responded to our survey) would like to do more. *

What makes peer coaching so engaging and useful for the people who take part?

A space to reflect – it provides much needed space for reflection.  A break from the relentless of day-to-day leadership challenges.  A space where, with peers, it is possible to relax, and talk about what is really bothering us.

New angles – it is so easy to become the prisoner of our own perspective.  We are so involved in our situation that we can no longer see the wood for the trees.  The questioning and viewpoints of our colleagues help us to see our problem from a different angle – to see a way through that had not occurred to us before.

Solidarity– leadership is lonely, and in these Covid times even lonelier.  Separated from our usual networks, teams and stakeholders, we have to find a path forward when there is no map.  By coming together with peers we learn that our problems are remarkably similar, we feel less alone, and we gain from others’ experience.

A community of practice – the MAVA community is diverse, fascinating, and linked by a shared commitment to people and nature.  Connecting with peers across the world and sharing challenges is enriching, and allows for the cross pollination of strategies and ideas.

Simply talking about our problems can sometimes be enough.  As one participant put it ‘I now feel less stressed, being able to talk about my challenges with people who are facing similar things has really helped’.  There is a saying in English ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’.  This idea is at the heart of peer coaching.  It lightens our leadership load and helps us to find a way forward.

*60% of those who attended responded to our survey.

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