Ask any leader if he or she is open-minded, and most--if not all--will say they are. But often our actions confirm we are so interested in being proven “right” - we forego a better option. There are a few clear traits that separate those who are indeed open-minded from those who are more closed-minded.
Here's a few points to consider:
- Closed-minded people don't want their ideas challenged; open-minded people are not angry when someone disagrees. They don't mind hearing (or someone having) another view of the situation.
- Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions; open-minded people genuinely engage in dialog - they listen, they ask clarifying questions, they restate what they believe they've heard to confirm before making assumptions.
- Closed-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others; open-minded people feel compelled to see things (and consider things) through others' eyes.
- Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility; open-minded people approach everything with a real understanding that they may be wrong.
Recognizing these traits in ourself is just the first step. The second step is recognizing them in others. Step three is to surround ourself with the open-minded ones.
A good exercise to help you in decision-making is to try to reframe a disagreement not as a threat but as an opportunity to learn. People who change their minds because they learned something are winners, whereas those who stubbornly refuse to learn typically lose.
Being open-minded doesn't mean that you blindly accept another person's views - it’s simply opening your mind to other possibilities. Then seek data to validate the various possibilities.
Good decisions aren't necessarily the ones that are products only of our own opinion. A good decision is what's best for our team, our customers, and our company. To make good decisions we must be willing to explore different points of view and different possibilities - and be open to the possibility that we may need to adjust our point of view.