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Getting a fresh point of view

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

When IBM’s Robert W. Moffat Jr. led the company’s personal-computer business, he had an unusual leadership tool: a “reverse mentor,” Inhi Cho, a rising midlevel manager.

Every six weeks, Moffat sat down with Cho to find out how the PC group looked from someone closer to the ground. He often heard from her something he hadn’t even considered.

For example, Moffat once formed a team to answer the question, “Why is IBM in the PC business?” This Blue Team, as it was called, was made up of about two dozen IBMers with decades of experience.

Then he secretly formed a second team—the Red Team—to tackle the same question. This smaller team’s members had less than five years’ experience. The result? Blue produced predictable results. Red produced two unexpected, intriguing ideas that Moffat used.

The lesson? Create a reverse-mentoring relationship to see through a fresh pair of eyes.

—Adapted from “Leader – Bob Moffat,” Charles Fishman, Fast Company.

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