There is no such thing called Reverse Mentoring

There is no such thing called Reverse Mentoring

Mentoring as we all understand is an at-will collaborative value-adding relationship, traditionally between someone who is older and has more life or work experiences and a younger person seeking it.

The underlying assumption being that:
a. experience and age contribute to wisdom and the ability to offer perspectives
b. the past and having been there helps us prepare for the future

Against this context, the term “reverse mentoring” is often used to describe the openness exhibited by older people to allow younger people to add value to them. Such a “privilege” is often associated with content associated with technology, use of social media and so on. It is also positioned as a fashionable thing to do by an older person!

I believe that in the world that we live in today, “mentoring” is “mentoring”. There is no such thing called “reverse mentoring”.

Age, experience and wisdom are not necessarily corelated.

History does not always inform how we can do things in the future.

a. To mentor someone, I need to have a strong appreciation of the seeker’s context. The context in which that person is and seeking help.

b. To mentor someone, I need to have content that will be of value to that person, given her or his context.

c. to mentor someone, I need to use a style that is open and flexible to suit that seeker.

Anyone who fulfills these three criteria can be seen as a valuable mentor to anyone who can benefit from those three criteria.

As more and more organizations grapple with unprecedented challenges to walk into the future, who better than someone who is thriving in that emerging context to mentor those who are struggling in that context?

Who better than someone who has first hand experience of having faced those challenges and difficulties to mentor someone in need?

Who better than someone whose style is likely to be informal, power-free and flexible?

Be it seeking help for mental health, or dealing with generational differences or being flexible, or adapting to rapid changes, understanding emerging societal dilemmas or influencing without authority or modern approaches to parenting or work life balance or the ability to be open and direct – hundreds of otherwise successful leaders are struggling with these challenges. Who is likely to have greater contextual understanding on these themes? Who is likely to have relevant first hand content to offer? Who is likely to do it in a flexible manner?

You may have found the answer.

The term reverse mentoring is somewhat patronizing. We never know where wisdom can come from. That may be a key to the future!