Transformational Mentoring: Leadership Behaviors of Spinal Cord Injury Peer Mentors


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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the leadership behaviors of spinal cord injury (SCI) peer mentors and examine whether behaviors of peer mentors align with the tenets of transformational leadership theory. Method: A total of 12 SCI peer mentors aged 28–75 (M = 49.4) who had between 3 and 56 years (M = 13.9) of mentoring experience were recruited for the study. Utilizing a qualitative methodology (informed by a social constructionist approach), each mentor engaged in a semistructured interview about their experiences as a peer mentor. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to a directed content analysis. Results: SCI peer mentors reported using mentorship behaviors and engaging with mentees in a manner that closely aligns with the core components of transformational leadership theory: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation. A new subcomponent of inspirational motivation described as ‘active promotion of achievement’ was also identified and may be unique to the context of peer mentorship. Conclusions: SCI peer mentors inherently use behaviors associated with transformational leadership theory when interacting with mentees. The results from this study have the potential to inform SCI peer mentor training programs about specific leadership behaviors that mentors could be taught to use and could lead to more effective mentoring practices for people with SCI.

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