How to use case clinic to pick your peers’ brains and hearts for your leadership challenges

Every now and again we bump up against a personal learning threshold, be it more or less consciously, sometimes for what feels like the gazillionth time. At times we’re hungry to find and face the next one to level up self-awareness, other times it can leave us feeling vulnerable to share what can touch upon deep confusion, self doubt, frustration or alike.

The case clinics can be a powerful tool to access the wisdom and experience of peers and to help a peer respond to an important and immediate leadership challenge in a better and more innovative way. I would like to share what felt like the most important factors for case giver and peer coaches to come out with fresh perspectives in the case clinics I’ve experienced - and why the power of vulnerability famously coined by Brenée Brown holds true for me in this case.

In the u.lab 1x MOOC Otto Scharmer as a preparation for the case clinic reminds us of important things to keep in mind, which in retrospective they hold true for me.

The more the case giver shared in their vulnerability and let go of controlling feelings with the mind but instead really let them surface, the more powerful and intuitive images emerged from the coaches in the mirroring process. These again had high resonance with the case giver on different levels: sometimes clarifying a rational question, sometimes moving something on the layer of feelings which the thinking mind could not yet grasp. I would even say that if we do not touch upon that which also brings up resistance to share, we do not really come out new after the process. Such delicate sharing presupposes a deep level of trust in the peers. However, “strangers” can bring even more revelations as they look at you new in your present version without any preconceptions. I suggest forming what I call a conscious alliance at the beginning of the first session where points like confidentiality are clarified in order to freely let go and let come. The thinking mind at times feels like an overprotective mother and these are processes that seem to relax it and let intuition grow into its independence.

For peer coaches the case clinic offers to be just as interesting an exercise in self-awareness and can be enhanced through checking consciously upon a couple of elements during the process, namely the voice of judgment (VOJ), voice of cynicism (VOC) and the urge to give recommendations and fix the challenge at hand. I find in Switzerland these three factors to be collective super-blockers to let deeper knowing emerge from open mind, open heart and open will - which again I would relate back to the topic of vulnerability. While the case giver shares, check in and be present with yourself, what comes up in your bodymind while also relating to the other and the social field. Pay attention to your attention and where it is easily drawn to. Judgment, cynicism and the urge to fix a problem are but a mirror to what you are comfortable to sit with and confront. It is surprising what comes up when the space is cleared for images, feelings and gestures to just emerge. To share two examples in which case givers shared about work challenges:
In one session I saw the case giver in a vacation house with her friends making plans on what to experience during the holidays but then never seeing them fulfilled, in another situation I saw the case giver as a flying half-bird seeing different things when looking up or down. Even though my thinking mind found these to be banal (VOJ), I shared them anyhow and both times they strongly resonated with the case giver and moved something.


Intuition feels like a muscle that just needs to be flexed with trust to grow stronger - have fun with experimenting and remember to celebrate at the end of the session!

To add the experience from one member of my coaching circle, Gys du Toit:

“It is amazing how total strangers can meet-up for a common cause and be connected on a deeper level in a few minutes.  There is a gift in giving - it was so refreshing to meet for our first case and experience all so eager to sincerely reflect / share.  The moment of silence in the beginning and celebration dance at the end in Michela's apartment just strengthened the memory, making the time to travel to meet worth the effort, it was actually not effort at all!  My case presented during the coaching circle went into an unstuck exercise, which was not expected and it really left vivid imprints on me. Each and every input was helpful, the different angles you took really gave me food for thought, some subconsciously which are still shaping my experiences. So, I definitely look at life through new eyes after my coaching circle experience. If the coaching circle can be experienced like this on a personal level, just imagine what can be done for a shared intent.”

By Michela Güttinger our U.Lab catalyst

Read more about how the Case Clinics works