What does it mean to be open-minded? Does it mean that you automatically check your ethics, belief system, and personal values at the door and then blindly follow out-of-control politicians and corporate leaders? Absolutely not. That’s a recipe for disaster and a very unhappy life. If having conversations with others is enough to unseat you from your values, religious beliefs, morals, and ethics, there are a lot more serious issues that need to be considered.
Being open-minded is a mindset that rock solid leaders possess. It’s one of invitation and collaboration where they are genuinely interested in hearing the opinions of others. That’s what great societal leaders do. They’re so solid in who they are, and believe so strongly in what they do, that they don’t feel that they’ll be unduly influenced or “magically” changed against their will simply by listening, engaging, and discussing ideas.
And, don’t confuse listening to others with agreeing with them. Listening is one thing; throwing your personal operating principles out the door to please or “go along” with someone whose ideas and ideals are contrary to what you know is right for you is a completely different issue.
Coming from a place of being open-minded allows us to see possibilities where otherwise we might not. As a leader, having an open mind to differing points of view and to new ideas demonstrates to others that one is collaborative in nature, rather than competitive. While it’s important to ensure focus by adhering to an organization’s overarching vision and mission, leaders who welcome the input of others and who genuinely listen to their constituency are typically the ones who are most respected.
No matter what the situation, we always learn something new. By being open-minded to listening to others, we might understand flaws in our own thinking, learn new ways of interpreting and handling issues, and most importantly, build bridges with others. We all live in this world together; it’s imperative that everyone learn how to get along by respecting each other’s beliefs. You don’t have to agree – everyone can be right – but you need to stay true to your own personal beliefs and values.
Are you open-minded? Recall a time when you listened deeply to the ideas of others. How can you be more open to new possibilities when it comes to being a leader? What types of results do you think you might achieve?
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
Tara Kachaturoff is the creator, producer and host of Michigan Entrepreneur TV, a weekly television talk show featuring business leaders and businesses from start-up to stellar. With over 15 years of experience in corporate finance in the tech sector, she now coaches executives, business professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, management, productivity, and marketing issues. Tara is also the author of 21 Qualities of a Leader from which this article is excerpted.