Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Young corporate leaders

February 2nd, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Julia Kirby recently blogged about young entrepreneurs Page & Brin (google), Jobs (Apple), and Zuckerberg (facebook) on the Harvard Business Review website.  She made the point that each of these entrepreneurs sought out assistance from ‘seasoned’ business leaders as their organizations grew.  The interesting point, Kirby points out, is that Page and Brin appointed a CEO while Zuckerberg appointed a COO.  In other words, the inventors of google sought guidance while the facebook head sought advisement.  These are very different models for learning.  The first concedes expertise while the second implies that the inventor ultimately knows best but could benefit from hearing another perspective.  

The interesting question is what model works best.  I think we would all concede that Zuckerberg has managed facebook quite well (despite some initial lawsuits about the origin of the idea).  Similarly Page & Brin have done just fine so far.  It would still be interesting to examine what aspect of each model lead to success.  The google model feels like a mentoring relationship.  There is a mentor and a protegee.  It is understood that the mentor has knowledge and experience that can be of value to the protegee.  In addition, the mentor is grooming the protegee so that she/he can advance and eventually achieve a similar level of success.  The facebook example does not fit existing learning models that are relationship based.  On the surface, it appears to be a leadership paradigm in which the leader surrounds him or herself with people who have the skills and knowledge that may be lacking.  I would be interested in hearing about how Zuckerberg learned from Sheryl Sandberg.  Was she treated as an advisor?  Or was there some behind the scenes mentoring or coaching?  

How do the titles and the hierarchy impact the opportunity for learning?  Can we effectively learn from others who hold positions subordinate to our own?  Or does the power structure limit our ability to value ideas from these sources?


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