judy-olian

Here is some great career and leadership advice from the Dean of UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management Judy Olian from an interview and Forbes article with Matt Symonds.

Olian describes backing into every kind of career decision that she was making. But over time, she realized that one of the most important career development tools is ”yes!’

If you can bring yourself to say yes it is probably a career development opportunity because you are learning new skills and you are becoming visible in new ways to people, and you become known as a can-do person.” In doing so, Olian became more aware of skills that she probably never knew she had by just saying yes.

But the Anderson dean also believes in the power of ‘no’. At her commencement address to the MBA class she picked out three messages from all of the lessons learned from the leadership class she teaches. Drawing from the work of Professor Clayton Christensen, she began by encouraging students to just say ‘no’. “100% is a lot easier than 90 or 98% in terms of your ethical framework.

If it doesn’t feel right, don’t compromise in any way. Just say ‘no’, don’t say this is going to be one exceptional time or you’ll do almost all the right things but just make one slight change to the way we are doing the books, or paying suppliers, or exercising product control etc.

Don’t ever compromise because once you get to 98% it gets a lot easier to get to 90%, and then 80%, and then in the end you are either lying or violating not just principles but regulatory requirements. So be uncompromising, unfailing in unequivocally adhering to the 100%, because that is easier.” Judy Olian also insists that failure is part of success.

“Expect that you are going to fail some time, because if you are not going far enough in what you are risking or testing, and if you are always staying in the safe zone you probably won’t fail but you’ll always stay in the safe zone. So expect failure as part of your growth trajectory as part of the way in which you grow.”

She also encourages students to be very self-aware as part of their leadership development. “You’ll be a much better leader, and will understand what your passionate about and what you love doing which makes work so much more fun.”

For more from this interview, including a discussion of the future for business schools, and what Judy Olian has learned from failure, click here.

Read the full article on Forbes here.