Liz Wiseman delivering a keynote speech.

After the publication of the bestselling book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, and the launch of leadership research and development firm, The Wiseman Group, of which she is President, Liz Wiseman popped onto the scene as a leading management thinker, writer, speaker and trainer. She followed with Rookie Smarts: How Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work in 2014. Her leadership career follows 17 years of success at Oracle where she rose to become Vice President of Oracle University. How can we not love someone who is committed to ridding the world of bad bosses?

Pivotal Moment of Reinvention

My big pivot came when I left the comfort of a great corporate job (I was the VP of Oracle University) to go out on my own as a consultant and executive advisor.

Oracle has a true growth mindset – a belief that smart people can figure out hard things. As a result, I faced a steady stream of stretch assignments. I was 40 years old before I had a job that I was actually qualified for! I found the work as thrilling as it was challenging.

At the end of those seventeen years my colleagues and work conditions were still fantastic but I wasn’t being challenged and the exhilaration was gone. I stepped out of my comfort zone and set out to research and write a book on leadership.

My colleagues and friends couldn’t understand why I left a great gig at a great company to work solo and in obscurity. But, in venturing out, I’ve found greater impact and personal satisfaction.

Valuable mentor or sponsor

Ray Lane, former president of Oracle, gave me roles that were at least two sizes too big and then let me suffer a bit while I figured it out. Phil Wilson proactively advocated with the top execs for a sizeable raise for me. It was initially rejected. He felt so strongly that I should be paid at the level of my responsibility that he put his own job on the line. It was approved. This kind of sponsorship is particularly needed to support women willing to stretch themselves and take risks. CK Prahalad, the late, acclaimed professor from University of Michigan, taught me to ask hard questions and opened doors that allowed me to pursue my current work in research, writing, and teaching management.


This post originally published at Forbes