Develop your Peer Coaching Skills: Why and How

Andrew Dion
Article by: Andrew Dion
Develop your Peer Coaching Skills: Why and How

When crafting one’s vision or developing more effective leadership, drawing on the knowledge and experience of others through peer coaching can be invaluable. 

Many leaders value their independence. Indeed, many believe they need to radiate a never-ending aura of confidence and resilience to inspire their teams. However, there almost always comes a time when a leader needs to look to others for insight and inspiration.

After learning our peer coaching methodology, THNK Program alumni often stay in touch following their leadership and form their own peer coaching circles, becoming a mutually sustaining network of knowledge and support.

Learn more about why peer coaching can help support your professional and personal endeavours and the best ways to begin forming your own peer coaching circle.

Peer Coaching v. Getting Feedback

Peer coaching, all coaching in fact, is an essential tool for a leader to master, and coaching and being coached simultaneously is a great way to learn.   

It is important to recognise how coaching is different from simply giving feedback. While feedback is an important skill for leaders, it differs significantly from coaching as the leader pushes the person receiving feedback in a pre-determined direction. You are either mapping a course or offering direct opinions and perspectives to the advisee.

In contrast, peer coaching means acting as a mirror or soundboard for the coachee to create their own inspiration. Peer coaching is not about telling or informing but listening and, most importantly, asking the right questions to guide each other to your new revelations.

For this reason, peer coaching with leaders outside your sector and especially your organisation may be more productive, as both coach and coachee will not have the direct knowledge to offer specific advice.

Four Tips to Develop your Peer Coaching Circle

So we’ve established why peer coaching is important, but now you’re probably wondering how to get started. These four peer coaching tips will help you build and reinforce your own peer coaching circle. 

1. Plan it out

The first and maybe most crucial step is establishing and defining a monthly peer coaching schedule. Approach your prospective peer coaches and set a time and place (preferably in-person, but video calls can still be effective) that is comfortable for everyone and allows clear open communication. When starting your sessions agree on a specific leadership topic as the focus for that meeting.

2. Ask guiding questions

A peer coaching session should be a cycle of asking and listening, then more asking and listening. Remember, you are not there to solve problems but to learn from one another.

  • Strive to be solution-oriented by focusing less on “what happened” and more on “how can we improve.”
  • Try probing deeper. “Maybe the problem you’re facing is the symptom of a more significant issue?”
  • Discuss how situations make you feel! Ask why something may excite them while other cases cause anxiety.

3. The more the merrier

The more people you invite into your peer coaching circle, the more diverse ideas and perspectives available to everyone. A larger circle also gives everyone more opportunities to practice coaching others while still having your own coaching needs met. Not only that, if one person finds they are unable to attend for one month, you would not need to cancel the entire session. 

4. Set a check-in date

Aside from your regular sessions, set a date to evaluate how everyone feels and reacts to peer coaching.

Is everyone still interested in continuing? Is there someone else you’d like to add to the circle? What is working? What isn’t working? How can we improve?

Start Building your Peer Coaching Circle

Why spend countless hours discovering how to overcome a problem or finding a new way of doing things when your peers are available as a resource to support your leadership journey? Peer coaching can be an invaluable tool for effective leadership.

Our THNK programs focus heavily on peer coaching as a means of learning and an essential skill necessary for future leadership development. If you are interested in further developing your peer coaching skills, any of our THNK leadership programs are a great place to start.

We have leadership programs for three career levels.