Originally posted on 99u


Smart leaders don’t necessarily create smart organizations. In a Stanford ECorner talk, leadership educator Liz Wiseman questions how what we know gets in the way of what we don’t know. Rather, a rookie mindset can actually be an advantage in thinking and creating imaginatively:

Experience creates blind spots.

When we’re aware of patterns, we stop seeing new possibilities; we’re not as open to contrary points of view. Instead, we fill things in. We heed the status quo.

The most powerful learning comes when we’re desperate.

When we’re forced to scramble up a steep learning curve, we take much more away than we would if we were operating in our comfort zone. Desperation, as opposed to comfort, can lead to the most impactful contributions.

Asking questions cultivates collaboration.

At the beginning of our careers, we’re devoted to seeking out answers. How does this work, what does this mean, how should I proceed? As we progress to leadership positions, we should not just provide answers being sought; we should seek out the best questions to pose in order to share the burden of thinking with our team and cultivate a culture of collaboration and innovation.

You can’t unlearn what you know, or shed your years of experience. But you can invest time with newcomers, young people, or the uninitiated. You can embrace a life of constant learning and a broad-minded mentality. To move forward, you need to go back.