Friday 16 January 2015

Peer Learning

 Much of the work I do is predicated on the importance of people learning from and with their peers. Action Learning and Open Space events, for example, are expressly designed to enable that. Both research and practice suggest that for many people, particularly in senior or complex roles, learning from peers is a very important part of their continuing development.

For me, that is what networking is for (and not the rather uncomfortable marketing/speed dating approach fostered by some professional networking event organisers). 

So I was delighted to join the Cumbria Coaching Network, having discovered it at their Change Fest event in October. I have blogged about a couple of their events before: the workshop on laughter, which was part of the Change Fest and one on Brain-Powered Goal Setting.

Today's meeting was an opportunity both to be coached by someone else, and also to offer another member coaching and receive feedback on that.

Even before the formal start of the session, I benefited from sharing a lift with Andy Hilton, who runs Result CIC - a social enterprise which offers training and coaching to marginalised groups, particularly those disadvantaged by disability. Andy and I had met at a previous CCN event, and had subsequently met for a coffee and conversation, leading to interesting learning and opportunities for both of us.

The meeting today started with a group discussion, which allowed me to get to know a few more people, before we broke into pairs for the coaching practical sessions

I was lucky enough to work with John Wright of Symbiosis and Lake District Adventures. With skilled listening and appropriate questions and challenge, John helped me to clarify and commit to some important goals for the coming year.  He also gave me some positive and helpful feedback on my brief coaching session when I reciprocated.  

This exposure to another coach's style and approach is very valuable as I seek to improve my skills and understanding as a coach. One of the interesting points for both of us was that we each wanted to hear the others' views and advice: we did not want pure non-directive coaching. Yet we are both well aware of the difference between coaching and advising.  I guess the key is that we were both clear about what we wanted from our coach in the session, and each of us (as coaches) checked that, and honoured it. 

And the lunch, at the Strickland Arms, was very good, too.

All in all, a great end to the week!

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