The Leadership Power That Comes From Inexperience

By First Round Review

Originally published February 9th, 2015 in Fast Company.

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"In 1989, Liz Wiseman took her first job out of business school at a mid-size startup called Oracle. With no previous experience, she was recruited as a technical trainer, charged with teaching programming to all of the company's new engineering recruits. She admits she barely knew what the company did, much less how to teach engineers. A year later, she was promoted to manage the training department and make CEO Larry Ellison's vision for what he called "Oracle University" a reality. She was 24.

"I really didn't know what I was doing. All I knew was that this was a grown-up job and I wasn't quite grown up yet, but no one seemed to be bothered by that but me," says Wiseman. It was scary then, but looking back, she sees clearly how being a rookie made her an ideal candidate for the blue-sky project. "My real value didn't come from having fresh ideas. It was having no ideas at all. When you know nothing you're forced to create something."

Little did she know that she'd spend the next 17 years leading the University effort and Oracle's global human resources. Since then, Wiseman has written three books about what makes people effective as employees and leaders, and has conducted extensive research on how management can maximize performance inside organizations. Now president of the Wiseman Group, training executives around the world, she recently spoke at Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner and shared her findings about the advantages of the rookie mindset, how knowing too much can be dangerous for innovation, and what leaders can do to help everyone around them achieve their potential..."

To read the rest of this article in it's entirety, please visit www.FastCompany.com.

 

  • “Agility, resilience, grit, and a growth mindset—these are the attributes effective leaders need in a changing world. Rookie Smarts shows leaders at every age and at every stage of their careers how to master these skills.”
    DAVE ULRICH
    University of Michigan professor and author of Leadership Sustainability
  • “Wiseman masterfully shows why novices can outdo veterans, expertise blinds us to fresh ideas, and the brilliance of newbies remains untapped. With sage insights and fascinating examples, Rookie Smarts is a must-read.”
    ADAM GRANT
    Wharton professor and author of Give and Take
  • “If you want to be a learning machine, improving and growing every year, this is the book for you.”
    LASZLO BOCK
    SVP of People Operations, Google, Inc.
  • “Wiseman (co-author: The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools, 2014, etc.) provides a big boost for first-time employees and others who refuse to be bound by arbitrary limits. . . .An exciting promotion of lifelong discovery and enthusiasm as answers to routine and business as usual.”
    Kirkus Reviews