How reverse mentoring supports upside down leadership

Michaela Weller

by Michaela Weller

2 March 2016

I attended a CIPD branch meeting on Reverse Mentoring in Global Organisations this week… One of those eventbrite topics that seemed intriguing (and was free!) to attend. I didn’t really consider what Reverse Mentoring was, and was grateful for the speaker posing that question to the audience first.

What was interesting in our collective responses was that we could all pretty much nail the ‘what’, but had quite different angles on the ‘why’.
Reverse mentoring (just to clarify) is partnering senior level ‘experienced’ leaders with more junior volunteers – so the expectation of wise counsellor, sage, treader of the corporate footpath dispensing wisdom to the newbie is clearly not congruent. Instead, the partnership is a vital conduit between those ‘grassroots’ or frontline team members and those whose status and business hierarchy may mean they are physically or intellectually removed from the ‘sharp end’ of their business.

That’s the ‘what?’…..But what’s the ‘why?’

Think of the upside down Leadership model: Leaders as enablers, empowering those closest to the ‘customers’ or action to make the right calls

Compressed Change of Leadership Style

The benefits I see of organisations or even better, senior leadership individuals, embracing Reverse Mentoring with carefully selected mentors are:

But what about the Mentors? What’s in it for them?:

While that all suggests the opportunity is a ‘no-brainer’, the reality will require careful planning and ongoing support, not least in enhancing the skill set of the mentors to give them the confidence and credibility to have great impact.

How many organisations and leaders are sufficiently ‘upside down’ to embrace the concept I wonder?
How many of us could personally benefit from Reverse Mentoring?  …And are we brave enough to try?

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