While attending a recent leadership conference, I was peppered with numerous helpful and inspiring leadership messages. These were all good, and for the most part, satisfying. I love this stuff, and the more leadership ideas, the better! Thinking back on the two-day conference, I realized that I had heard versions of these subjects before; these were “refresher” lessons in leadership development. I saw some of the brightest minds on the leadership spectrum, and one message delivered by author and consultant, Liz Wiseman, stood out from the others: Apply the skills you came into your career with in everyday interactions, decisions, planning and thinking – apply your “Rookie Smarts”.
Rookie Smarts is a concept of going back to the basics that launched our careers and our passion for learning and leading. The idea is to capture that youthful energy and innovative spirit we all had when we began our careers. Use that energy again to foster a culture of learning and mentoring the workforce that’s creeping up behind us…the future leaders, and future members of CMMA.
Admit it. We’ve seen them; the rookies in our organization who think they know everything about anything, and they aren’t afraid to let you know. Sometimes these rookies fall flat and learn lessons the hard way. These rookies also move quickly through organizations with their new ideas, new energy and relevant skills for today’s workforce, and find success. I’m attracted to the concept of Rookie Smarts, and believe that as CMMA members, and leaders within our own organizations, we have an obligation to continually canvas the talent landscape for those rarest of rare jewels: future leaders with vast potential. Face it; many of us will be hanging up the business suit for a canoe paddle in the next ten years (more or less), and it should be incumbent upon each of us to chart a course for developing these new leaders in our organizations. We were the rookies at one point in our career, and if we look back to the traits we employed to bring us to where we are today, just think how we can inspire the rookies of this day. Why should we look back?
Wiseman says that in a rapidly changing world, experience can be a curse. Careers can stall, innovation pauses or stops and strategies grow tired and stale. The concept of being new, naïve and clueless as being an asset is a hard one to grasp; however, I see this as the perpetual learner. This is the experienced leader who is always looking for the new twist to solving an age-old problem (analog to digital, anyone?).
So, take this advice, and invest in your past success, and embrace being a rookie again. Love learning, and embrace mentoring. And by the way, “Rookie Smarts” is also Wiseman’s new book. Embrace the thinking and behavior of that young, energetic person you were, and ponder hanging up that canoe paddle for a few more years. You’re just getting started!
Article contributed by Warren Harmon, CMMA Board Member