This is counterintuitive, but being willing to change your mind is a leadership skill.
Not the proverbial “weather vane” where you become the leader who simply agrees with the last person you met, but an openness to change your mind when presented with new facts; a logical, different opinion; or even an alternative view on a topic you’ve “gone all in” on.
Being willing to change your mind requires vulnerability and humility. It takes courage and patience to be open to influence.
To create a brand where others clearly know your position, but they also know you’re willing to listen to alternative points of view. You build a brand with your associates where they can broach any topic with you, at any time without hesitation, and they know you’ll be open to a fundamentally different opinion.
This culture doesn’t happen overnight.
You earn a reputation through consistent behavior of not automatically shutting down dissenting points of view, alternative ideas, and passionate (and not so passionate) opinions. You have to behave yourself into a reputation of being open to influence. You can’t simply declare it so.
It’s a delicate balance of forming and sharing your positions in a way that instills confidence in others, while at the same time demonstrating that as new facts emerge, you’re willing to be influenced—often by those you might least suspect. Or they might least suspect.
Leaders responsible for building organizational cultures (that’s each of you) have an obligation to lead with a clear vision and strategy…and simultaneously reflect an openness for tacking left or right when needed. In her book How Will You Measure Your Life, Karen Dillon shares research from Amar Bhidé that “93 percent of all companies that ultimately become successful had to abandon their original strategy because it was not viable.” INSANE—only 7 percent of organizations became successful with their original strategy? Thus, 93 percent of the time, organizations achieved success by being willing to change their strategy (mind).
I think that’s a great guidepost: 93 percent of the time, you might need to change your mind to be relevant. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration when extrapolated to life, but it should still haunt you as a leader. As a spouse. As a friend and parent.
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