The Power of Peer-Mentoring

In 2014 I launched the Women’s Leadership Forum as a year- long experimental learning journey into the world of leadership from a female perspective, with a group of professional women in Guernsey from all different backgrounds, ages and career stages. A second cohort was formed in 2015 and we are now part way through an evolving journey with that group too.

Of the original group – 8 decided to continue into year 2, to form a peer-mentoring and learning group – again another experiment.

As our model, we are using the Case Clinic approach developed by Otto Scharmer and his team from MIT and the Presencing Institute.

Understandably, even though the relationship between the 8 is deepening as we progress, it is still taking time to create enough safety in the group for members to want to step in to be the “Case Giver” in this process – which requires both courage and a willingness to be vulnerable in front of your peers.

At our last meeting – no-one wanted to be “it”! As the group facilitator I needed to improvise, so decided to step into the dual role of holding the process and being the case giver. I am so glad and grateful that I did, as it enabled me to experience the power of the process from the inside.

Firstly – simply having 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to talk through my situation following the model was enlightening. Setting out my key challenges and questions, how others might view the situation, my intention for the future I was trying to create, my personal learning edges and the help or input I needed was a deep personal enquiry, the vocalisation of which led to immediate insights and understandings that had previously been hidden from view.

Secondly – the power of having this process witnessed in a safe, compassionate way without judgement, was in itself revelatory. Each of the witnesses mirrored back how hearing my case had impacted them, ahead of our moving on to a generative dialogue, peer-mentoring process where we each built on one another’s ideas.

In the 3 months since the peer-mentoring session, I have made a number of significant life changes and decisions which were catalysed through this process. I’m looking forward to sharing these with the group later today when we meet again, and also to the privilege of facilitating and holding this powerful process for today’s brave soul. My hope is that she too finds this a profoundly different way to learn how to do something she previously didn’t know how to do.