Peer mentoring of adults with spinal cord injury: a transformational leadership perspective
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PURPOSE: Drawing from the tenets of transformational leadership theory, the purpose of this study was to examine the nature of effective peer mentoring of adults with a spinal cord injury (SCI) from the perspective of mentees. METHODS: The study utilised a qualitative methodology (informed by a social constructionist approach), involving 15 adult mentees with a SCI (mean age = 47.2; mean time since injury = 14.5 years), in which data were obtained via semi-structured interviews. RESULTS: The results revealed that effective mentoring, as used by mentors with SCIs, closely aligns with the core components of transformational leadership. Specifically, all four dimensions of transformational leadership (idealised influence, inspirational motivation, individualised consideration and intellectual stimulation) as displayed by mentors with a SCI were evident in their interactions with mentees. Participants who perceived their mentors to use transformational leadership behaviours reported increases in motivation, self-confidence, hope and overall well-being, relatedness with their mentor, greater comfort/acceptance of their situation, a redefined sense of their limitations, as well as greater engagement in various life pursuits. CONCLUSIONS: Displays of transformational leadership by peer mentors (i.e. transformational mentoring) were reported by mentees to be associated with a range of adaptive psychological and behavioural outcomes. The results have the potential to inform the development and dissemination of peer mentor-based interventions and initiatives. Implications for Rehabilitation Within the context of spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation, positive peer mentorship is reflected in mentors' use of transformational leadership behaviours (idealised influence, inspirational motivation, individualised consideration and intellectual stimulation). When SCI peer mentors use transformational leadership behaviours, mentees report a redefined sense of their limitations, and increased self-confidence, hope, motivation, acceptance, participation and overall well-being. The results of this study have the potential to inform future longitudinal and experimental research concerning the (causal) effects of peer mentoring on mentee outcomes. In particular, research should examine the effects of peer-mentorship training, informed by the tenets of transformational leadership theory, in relation to the mentee outcomes assessed in this qualitative study.
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