Beyond the Boardroom
Way back in 1999, Jack Welch, then-chief executive officer at General Electric, realized this new thing—the internet—wasn’t going away. In fact, the internet could be a game changer for businesses like his. But top leaders, mostly of the same generation as Welch, didn’t know how to enter a portal or run a search, much less have a conversation around outreach potential.
Thus, the dawn of reverse mentoring.
With this role-reversal strategy, the executive or leader becomes the mentee, the staff member the mentor. Leaders meet one-on-one with employees from diverse backgrounds to get their perspectives on their jobs and the company.
Their way of looking at things can help leaders strengthen the organization and retain and attract employees, said Patrice Gordon. She’s director of commercial strategy development and Virgin Atlantic and is also an executive reverse-mentoring coach.
But that change isn’t happening nearly as fast in C-suites and boardrooms. “It’s important that isolated, often white, top leaders get to hear about others’ perspectives, their struggles, career hopes, and setbacks,” she added.