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Research: “Organizational context” drives development of strong leaders

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Xerox's pilot reverse mentoring program provides an example of an organization that encourages the practice of knowledge sharing and exposes leaders to situations where they can learn from colleagues. Xerox views diverse teams as a strength. To build on that strength, Xerox is piloting a program where millennial mentors and senior executives meet once per month one-on-one to exchange opinions and viewpoints on topics related to both work and life, leading to greater understanding of the other generation and the changes that affect them both. The goal is to leverage information and insights about the business to foster a more effective work environment. So far, Xerox's team describes the impact of this program as very positive. Future plans include increasing participation across different generations and job functions.

Erie Insurance's Foundations of ERIE Leadership exemplifies two of the five critical practices identified by the research: it both fosters closer collaboration between business and HR leaders, and communicates widely what it means to be a leader. Erie Insurance's vice president of learning worked with business leaders across all levels in the organization to develop a leadership model. Learning leaders then work with business leaders at the mid-level to teach the behaviors of the Erie leader, and share their experiences. This enables employees to learn about the different lines of business, and to understand how each of them contributes to the overall success of the company, as well as how the Erie leadership behaviors play out in different situations. When back at work, program participants are held accountable to follow individual leadership action plans. The company also facilitates networking events to help alumni connect and maintain peer relationships formed during the program.


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