A widespread truism among leaders is that they must always be open-minded, particularly in crisis or uncertainty. While senior leaders may have a wealth of knowledge and experience at this stage in their careers, they must remain open-minded.
Everyone can benefit from open-mindedness. That is to say, be eager to examine new knowledge. On the other hand, leaders often hesitate about inviting other ideas and what that can imply for their authority. You may have to transition into a new leadership position at any time.
Why Do Some Leaders Struggle With Open-Mindedness?
Some leaders get into the trap of believing they must have all the answers and place undue pressure on themselves to work things out independently. They may believe that “it’s all up to me.” Others may believe that being open to other people’s perspectives necessitates changing their own to fit the others’—that they can’t listen and then have a different viewpoint or opinion.
In high-pressure circumstances, leaders may believe that they must make choices immediately, not have time to listen to different viewpoints outside of their specialty area, or that shopping around opinions is too time-consuming. They may also believe that having too much input or too many alternatives might be confusing and lead to writer’s block, similar to being presented with an extensive menu at a restaurant. However, all of this speaks to a stuck worldview caused by a need to protect oneself.
What is the true cost of being open-minded? After all, it’s only information, and you can decide what to do with it afterward. Just because you have new information doesn’t mean you have to be entirely convinced and alter your whole thought system. Even if it does, knowledge should be welcomed rather than frightened because of the possibility it provides for a better future.
An open mind indicates a growth mindset.
Leaders face obstacles daily. When you come into particularly challenging problems that are not simple to deal with, it’s likely because you haven’t dealt with them previously. As a result, the key to getting beyond these issues is to be open to new knowledge to aid in the discovery of answers, and merely being open to that demonstrates a development mentality.
Those with a fixed attitude often assume that they must be excellent from the outset. You may not even begin, or you could quit too soon. With a growth mindset, you shift your thinking from “I can’t do that” to “I can’t do it yet, but I can figure it out,” and you take tiny strides ahead. Learn by being open to different influences and refining your perspective. Have the humility to admit knowledge gaps and the fortitude to embrace new ideas when they contradict what you thought you understood. These things may help you build trust with everyone you deal with.
Learning new things is often quite rewarding. Most people like to push and stretch themselves as a significant internal incentive. However, some leaders may believe that they should have already learned everything necessary to get to where they are. Indeed, given their position. People with exceptional ability may become convinced that if they need to improve, they are never good enough, to begin with.
However, at this point, the perspective should shift from learning as a remedial measure to learning as an evolutionary process. Leaders with an open mind continue to grow due to their proactive and optimistic attitudes.
Access to multiple perspectives also makes problem resolution much simpler. Situations won’t catch you off guard when you’re always thinking about future views and fresh ideas.
There are several methods for leaders to demonstrate open-mindedness. When you come upon new and surprising knowledge, take a moment to contemplate. Experiment with deferring your judgment. Recognize when your judgement is catching you up.
When processing new information, keep confirmation bias in mind. It may help to journal ideas and take the time to figure things out. Consider what has worked in the past and what may change in the future.
Allow oneself exposure to new experiences and ideas. Examine a variety of publications and complete online sources. As a senior leader, you will foster innovation and engage in strategic thinking. Innovation is the clash of ideas that results in creating something new. New ideas are a requirement to create new advances.
You should also network with your colleagues and discuss current concerns and trends. Pose questions to persons who have opposing viewpoints. Invite people to put your ideas to the test and provide comments. Take professional development classes, preferably ones outside your area of competence.
Instead of concentrating on depth in your functional competence area, be open to taking courses that will fill you out as a leader and professional.
As a leader, you should continuously be thinking about how you might improve for the future. Instead of being concerned about what fresh viewpoints may do to your authority, consider learning to be a positive thermostat. Being open-minded does not imply accepting someone else’s point of view. It’s all about having a “yes, and” attitude. Mix of your and other people’s ideas. At the same time, allow for self-compassion since challenging your own beliefs is challenging. Nobody wants you to have all the answers all of the time, but where you are is always a good place to start.