Leadership Book Review: Peer Coaching at Work

Now more than ever, in order to survive and thrive in this VUCA world (a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), we need a fast and continuous learning environment. I’m sure you can relate. But did you know the right people in your life can help you?

Given these high learning demands, Polly Parker et al. wrote the book Peer Coaching at Work: Principles and Practices to provide a researched and guide to develop a thriving learning environment through peer coaching with a unique three-step approach. We’ll get to those steps in a minute.

First, let’s start with the basics. Parker et al. define peer coaching as a focused relationship between individuals of equal status who come together for the primary purpose of supporting each other’s learning and development. 

Now, let’s get to those steps:

  • Step 1: Build the relationship by emphasizing the essential foundations that develop effective peer-coaching relationships.
  • Step 2: Create success in applying and developing skills that build self-awareness through self-disclosure and feedback.
  • Step 3: Make peer coaching a habit.

There was a lot more than just those steps in this book. In fact, I discovered several great takeaways. However, the one that stuck out the most was about the importance of readiness. Take a look at the list below; it’ll give you an idea if you’re ready. And if you’re not, this is what you should keep in mind in order to become ready.

Here are the book’s seven principles of help where the participants should: 

  • Principle 1: Only partake in peer coaching if both are ready to give and receive help. 
  • Principle 2: Be equal in status
  • Principle 3: Have the proper helping role. Not a doctor or expert role, but the process consultant role, where the peers collaboratively determine their needs. 
  • Principle 4: Understand that everything you say and do (or not do) can determine the relationship going forward. 
  • Principle 5: Start with a humble inquiry by asking pure inquiry questions (not leading questions) that suggest a particular direction to follow. 
  • Principle 6: Remember that the helper does not own the problem.
  • Principle 7: Always be reminded that you never have all the answers. This is a collaboration to develop a working solution that the one receiving the help can live with. 

I would recommend this book to any leader that wants a practical, low-cost resource to address life-long learning for himself/herself, a team or an organization in a VUCA world. After all, we get by with a little help from our friends.



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