by Jack Santos | August 13, 2012 | Comments Off on Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring
The term “Reverse Mentoring” seems to ebb and flow – in Forbes, in the Wall Street Journal, in Mckinsey reports – originally ascribed (in some circles) to Jack Welch at GE.
What a perverse term.
More recently it has become vogue to use “reverse mentoring” as a way to get old farts (like me) more in tune with social media and anything new that the younger workforce is doing.
Mentoring carries with it a connotation of power – the person in a position of power is assisting the person not in the same position. And there are certainly some good aspects to that. I have been mentored, and it helped my career. “Peer Mentoring” starts to bastardize that power relationship – by definition peers are at the same power level within the organization. “Reverse mentoring” takes mentoring to a whole different planet – either by recognizing that subordinates have a certain amount of power – or purposefully negating the power equation (as if that could be done).
How about flipping the whole mentoring discussion on its head and just talk about managing relationships and engagement? By putting social interactions on steroids (thru Facebook, Linked in, Twitter and other social media), it becomes less about mentoring, and more about making sure that you (boss or subordinate) are properly managing your relationships, and that all interactions are a good give and take. Mentoring, then, just becomes a moniker for those relationships you put special emphasis on – but it should still be bi-lateral.
That’s at the core of the research we do for Professional Effectiveness at Gartner. It’s a recognition that EVERYONE brings something to the table in the organization, and the goal should be how you can make yourself effective in that environment. The skills that we normally ascribe to “leaders” aren’t just for those at the top. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a hierarchy, or a chain a command. It would be foolish to think that organizations can be totally egalitarian. Early in my life I did extensive work on studying communities – and found that even in supposedly “democratic and egalitarian, leaderless” communities there was always a structure and hierarchy involved, and most of the time a strong leader. But there is a difference between being a (formal or informal) leader, and needing those same “leadership qualities” to be effective at every level of the organization.
Maybe the distinction can be talked about as “big L” Leadership versus “small l” leadership. So in that sense, everyone in the organization is a leader.
That’s part of what we’ll be talking about at our workshop entitled “Career Survival Skills for Gearheads” at the Gartner Catalyst conference next week.
Read Complimentary Relevant Research
Predicts 2017: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services. Practical...
View Relevant Webinars
An Integrated Approach to Strengthening Your Supply Chain
Digital disruption and the weakening global economy have made profitable growth more challenging than ever. Yet, some CSCOs are able...
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.