Your Experience Is Required

own your own experiencesYou are new to this job of leadership and have much less experience than the people you are supposed to lead.  Maybe you have recently just graduated from college. Or maybe have worked for a while but this is your first role leading others who have been with the company for years.  I am probably not the first one to tell you that experience does matter.

Your experience may be limited, but rest assured, education and experience go hand in hand.

Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.” – Immanual Kent

In coaching new leaders I find a common misperception: experience that isn’t directly related to the type of job you have now isn’t relevant, you can’t rely on what you’ve done before in this leadership role.  Well that is just wrong.  

Every new role you are seeking will have some element of responsibility that you have not done before. Some part of your background may match the requirements of your new role exactly, but even more important is the diverse experiences you do have in adapting to new environments and taking on new challenges, or in organizational design, or social media strategies, or any number of areas. You do bring something to the table that can add value, but there is more for you to learn. 

Here are a couple of ways for you to add to your experience:

First the obvious, do more yourself. As Harold Geneen said, “In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” Take the lateral job move, volunteer for new assignments. Do the work now and when the opportunities come you will be ready.

Second, surround yourself with people who have been where you want to go and ask questions. As Voltaire said, “Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?” You don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself on the way. Fast track to successful experience by having mentors.

Don’t short change yourself or the importance of your personal experience.  But don’t forget to learn from the experiences of others as well.