Tag Archives: leadership

2014 Multiplier of the Year Winners: Leadership Insights


This February, The Wiseman Group concluded the prestigious 2014 Multiplier of the Year Award.

Now, for the first time in the history of the award, we are proud to present Multiplier of the Year Leadership Insights, two leadership essays written by the winners of this year’s contest.

These two captivating and passionate expositions, written by Susan Brown and Judy Levinsohn, are guaranteed to resonate not only with successful leaders, but help to provide insight for anyone on their own leadership journey.

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(Left) Business Winner: Susan Goss Brown, VP of Stores, U.S., Banana Republic
(Right) Education Winner: Judy Levinsohn, Manager of the Institute for Leadership Development, OC Department of Education

Susan Goss Brown, VP of Stores, U.S., Banana Republic

“Fundamentally I believe leaders are chosen… not appointed. Yes, there are many people in leadership roles that have earned their way to the top because of great results, experience, a successful project or simply being in the right place at the right time. And yet, they fail at leadership. The great leaders of our time were chosen by the people who followed them. Chosen for their compassion, their selflessness, their willingness to stand alone and their willingness to challenge others to be better. Great leaders appeal to both the intellect and the heart. They believe in the best in others and value all the characteristics that make individuals unique. They understand how to incorporate those differences into a team to create balance and high performance.

This has always been the leader I strive to be. Not because it makes me “good”, or because I want to be recognized for leadership, but because it is a joy to help others find their greatness and reach their potential. I love nothing more than to see a leader gain confidence in their capability. To watch them begin to contribute at a level never before. To see them flourish as a result of conversations and challenges that helped them tap into their own brilliance. This is the real benefit of being a leader and what continues to inspire me.

As the composition of the workforce evolves, and we are confronted with the complexity of leading multiple generations, understanding how to create optimal working conditions will be important. I’d like to foster an environment that supports and encourages the team to operate interdependently with shared authority. A team that is willing to work collaboratively to identify and solve business opportunities. A team that is accountable for collective results and performance. And having high performance standards is a must. Everyone enjoys winning. Winning at something that was difficult to achieve feels better than winning by default or because the task was easy. Stretching the team or individuals by assigning work that matters is critical. Affording them the opportunity to impact business by assigning tasks that come with business risks sends a strong message of how much I believe in their capability. I am happy to say, I have rarely been disappointed in these situations.

These are the reasons I lead. It’s a privilege – and one that I hope my team continues to afford me the opportunity to enjoy.”

Judy Levinsohn, Manager of the Institute for Leadership Development, OC Department of Education

“I have always had a love for education. As a little girl, I would come home from school and spend hours in our basement teaching my imaginary students. The wall-mounted chalkboard would capture my teaching, and my make-shift plan book would document student attendance and performance. With the bat of an eye, I moved from my basement classroom to a real teaching setting, having the opportunity to teach in New York, Virginia, and Maryland before moving to Southern California where my first school had a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. I had certainly come a long way!

My passion for learning (and ever-present desire to embrace new challenges) eventually took me from the classroom into administration. As I reflect on that amazing time in my career, I must acknowledge the talented educators who formed our team. They were considered the “stars” of our district – true trailblazers. Together we engaged in shared decision-making before the term was coined. We implemented school-wide strategies before the power of common assessment was truly explored. We embraced technology-imbedded instruction long before 21st century skills had been defined. Yet, even with all that talent, with all that passion, something was missing. While our successes were many, while our students consistently outscored those students at other sites, I do not believe we were not able to realize our full potential. Our shining stars were unable to form one constellation of leadership. I have often asked myself, “Why?”

My career has since taken me from the school site to non-profit work and ultimately, to my current position as Manager of the Institute for Leadership Development at our county office of education. While my professional experiences continue to shape my beliefs and actions, the most significant professional “aha” I have experienced took place when I attended a conference where Liz Wiseman was one of the keynote speakers. Her message immediately struck a chord: Most leaders have the best of intentions. They have the passion; they have the knowledge; they have a vision. Yet in their effort to accommodate the perceived needs of their colleagues, they are, in fact, accidental diminishers. I decided to take the multiplier assessment, just for fun.

I’m reminded of a saying a colleague once said – “the numbers don’t lie.” My score left no room for doubt: I was an accidental diminisher. After recovering from the shock, I realized how often, in my effort to make things easier for my teammates, I was unintentionally diminishing the opportunities to ponder the possibilities. I have come to realize that things have to be messy before they can be great. Like 21st century classrooms, we must establish an environment where ideas are encouraged, possibilities are explored, and mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn. It is through collaborative risk taking that our greatest accomplishments will occur. Thank you, Liz, for re-defining my leadership and inspiring the multiplier within me!”

To view the past winners of the Multiplier of the Year Award, click here.

LDRLB Live Webinar: David Burkus and Liz Wiseman on Rookie Smarts


By David Burkus

Originally published February 10th, 2015 in LDRLB.

David Burkus is passionate about leadership, innovation, and strategy. He’s made it his purpose to facilitate the transfer of good ideas and focused on filling that gap between what science knows and what we most often do.

Burkus is the author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas and writes regularly for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, PsychologyToday and 99U. He is also the founder and host of LDRLB (pronounced “leader lab”…long story), a podcast that shares insights on leadership, innovation, and strategy.

In this LDRLB live webinar, David Burkus and Liz Wiseman talk about “How Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.”

To listen to more episodes of the LDRLB Podcast, click here. To learn more about David Burkus, click here.

The Leadership Power That Comes From Inexperience


By First Round Review

Originally published February 9th, 2015 in Fast Company.

“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.


TEDx Talk Featuring Liz Wiseman: Living and Working With Child-Like Wonder

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February 4th, 2015

This week, TEDx University of Nevada published Liz Wiseman’s TED Talk: “Living and Working With Child-Like Wonder.” This inspirational video showcases Liz Wiseman as she shares her personal story of re-discovery. 

Has the world become too familiar to you? Do you feel stuck? How does what we know get in the way of what we don’t know? 

It’s difficult to let go of what we know and embrace the unknown. Let Liz Wiseman help you recapture that “Child-Like Wonder” in your job, by focusing on climbing new learning curves instead of only climbing up the career ladder.

You will never look at Koi Fish in the same way again!

101 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference


Kevin Kruse (NY Times Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker) and Inc.com have released the article “101 Great Speakers for Your Next Conference.” The Wiseman Group is honored to have Liz Wiseman appear on this distinguished list.

The following article was originally published by Jeff Haden December 19th, 2014 on Inc.com.

“I do a number of speaking events every year, and people often ask me to recommend great speakers. (Hopefully that’s not because they were less than thrilled by myperformance.)
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen as many people speak as I would like, so my list of suggested speakers is fairly short.

Fortunately, Kevin Kruse has seen a ton of speakers. A keynote speaker in his own right, and best-selling author of books on employee engagement and wholehearted leadership, he’s compiled a list of his favorite leadership speakers and trainers; most Kruse has seen in person, and he’s also hired a number of them to speak at his own events.(And he’s also a humble guy; while he left himself off, he definitely belongs on any list of great business speakers.)

Check out some of the following people the next time you need a great speaker. And if you’re deciding whether to attend a particular event and one of them is on the program, drop everything and go. You’ll be glad you did.”

To view Kruse’s list please click here, or to read the article in it’s entirety visit www.inc.com.

The Agile Team: Why Learning Beats Knowing


By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Monster Resource Center
This article was originally posted on Monster.com and published October, 2014.

In her latest book, author and researcher Liz Wiseman presents a solid case for why, in today’s fast-changing workplace, not knowing can be more valuable than knowing.

The book’s title echoes this message: Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. In it, Wiseman presents a case for hiring rookies — be they young or mature professionals — who embody Steve Job’s now famous commencement advice to “stay hungry; stay foolish.”

The key to creating an agile and successful team, says Wiseman, is to keep people on a learning curve, rather than a straight line. The result is a renewed, relevant and engaged workforce.
In this Monster interview, Wiseman relays how today’s top companies are doing just that.

Monster: Your book, Rookie Smarts, advocates for hiring rookies. Are you saying Millennials make the best hires?

Wiseman: No, I’m suggesting that people without experience in a particular task often make the best hires. Sometimes these people are Millennials, young and new to the workforce, but it can also be a mature professional who is pivoting from their current expertise and doing something new. We find that people are often at their very best when they are in rookie mode — doing something important and hard for the first time.

Monster: What qualities demonstrate learning agility?

Wiseman: In my research I found that the “perpetual rookies” (those with years of experience and success who retained their rookie mindset) had a number of traits in common. They were:
1) Intellectually curious
2) Humble or, perhaps better said, teachable
3) Playful
4) Deliberate
If I were hiring someone for learning agility, I would look this duality: someone with a child-like approach to their work (curious, humble, playful) but who can also be their own adult supervision.

Monster: Is learning agility crucial when recruiting for manager positions?

Wiseman: Absolutely. The best leaders are learners. They know when it is time to shift out of the mode of leadership and into a mode of learnership. Not only do they need to be able to do this for themselves, but their agility between these roles sets the tone for the entire organization’s ability to unlearn and relearn dynamically.

Click here to read the entire interview with Liz Wiseman on Monster.com.

You can also learn more about Rookie Smarts by visiting www.RookieSmarts.com.

11 Great Business Books to Read Right Now


By Jeff Haden
This article was originally posted on Inc.com and published October 31st, 2014.

Successful entrepreneurs and smart businesspeople follow a simple motto: always be learning.

There are many ways to go about it, but cracking open an insightful read is never a bad idea. Here’s a selection of great books on innovation, entrepreneurship, success, happiness, and even what makes different people tick. They may not all appear to be “business” books… but never forget that inspiration comes from many places.

Every entrepreneur is at some point a rookie, an upstart, an inexperienced person with a dream… and fortunately experience isn’t everything. In Rookie Smarts, Wiseman shows how rookies can outperform veterans, experience can cause us to ignore new ideas, and how sometimes the perfect person to hire is the person who doesn’t “know” everything.

To see the entire list of 11 Great Business Books to Read Right Now, please visit Inc.com.

You can also learn more about Rookie Smarts by visiting www.RookieSmarts.com.

The Traits That Lead to Success—And How to Tell Who’s Got Them


By Laura Vanderkam
This article was originally posted in Fast Company and published October 28, 2014.

“Technology changes quickly. Companies implode and people switch jobs every few years.

If 30% of information in some fields becomes obsolete in a year, how long does expertise last? says Liz Wiseman in her forthcoming book, Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.

It’s not that expertise isn’t helpful, but success comes from constantly approaching work as a “perpetual rookie,” Wiseman writes, someone who is “living and working perpetually on a learning curve.” People who can do that will thrive. Here’s how to recognize someone who’s always in back-to-school mode:

Rookies have the ability to see things differently than those with too much skin in the game. They can “step a layer out of something and question it,” says Wiseman.

Of course, in a job interview, people ask the questions they’re supposed to ask, which is why it’s great to meet people in other situations, like at a conference, when someone you’re talking to asks questions about your business that you’ve never thought of.

You can encourage this mindset in more veteran employees by allowing those who’ve taken new roles to spend a few weeks really talking to everyone and asking what people think. Sometimes organizations do things for good reasons. And sometimes, they’ve simply stopped asking why they do what they do.”

To see the rest of the article in it’s entirety, please click here and visit Fast Company.

You can also learn more about Rookie Smarts by visiting www.RookieSmarts.com.

It’s Time to Shake Up your Succession Planning


By Liz Wiseman
This article was originally posted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and published October 28, 2014.

“Too often well-meaning managers shield their employees from change and disruption, essentially placing a do not disturb sign on the employee’s door.

While employees may seem temporarily relieved, could it be that they are actually unhappy when they are cloistered and comfortable? When is it time to disturb someone, wake them up, and lead them into a discomfort zone?

My research focused on just these questions: When are employees ready to be challenged and how much of a challenge can they actually handle? We asked approximately one thousand individuals to indicate how long it took them to:

1) Figure out their current role
2) Be ready for their next big challenge,
3) Be ready for a new role, and
4) Begin to feel stale in their current role.

In general, we found that after receiving a challenging assignment, people:
-Have figured out their role within three months
-Are ready for the next big challenge within just three months
-Are ready for a new role within one year
-Begin to feel stale within two years

When we analyzed the data by job role we found that individual contributors are the first to feel stale and the first to be ready to tackle a new challenge. Middle managers, on the other hand, report being ready for an entirely new job or role the soonest.

Given that the majority of employees are ready for a new challenge every three months and ready for a new role at one year, what can you do to prevent your workforce from getting stale?

Most organizations can’t play a perpetual game of musical chairs, moving employees into new roles every twelve months. But here are some other strategies to keep your talent in the rookie zone.

1. Design one rookie component into each job. While the majority of a role may play to the employee’s strengths and utilize their current job skills, ensure that everyone has at least one aspect of their job where they must close a significant knowledge or skill gap.”

To see the rest of the article in it’s entirety, please click here and visit The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

You can also learn more about Rookie Smarts by visiting www.RookieSmarts.com.

Entrepreneurs Thrive On The Learning Curve


By Martin Zwilling

This article was originally posted in Forbes and published October 28, 2014.

“In today’s fast moving world of business startups, learning trumps knowing every time. What established businesses know through experience keeps them from looking for the new and innovative ways to do what they do better, cheaper, and faster. I’m convinced that’s why most mature companies are slowing down or buying their innovation through acquisition, rather than building it.

In her new book, “Rookie Smarts,” Liz Wiseman, one of the top thought leaders in business, amplifies this point as it relates to hiring and cultivating the curious, flexible, youthful mindset in keeping a mature company young and competitive, as well as keeping experienced employees more productive.

She outlines four distinct ways that business people doing something for the first time, whether they be entrepreneurs, or people in a new role in a larger company, tend to think differently than experienced veterans. With my focus on startups, I can translate very easily how her points lead to more innovation even in the entrepreneurial environment…”

To see the rest of the article in it’s entirety, please click here and visit Forbes.com.