Why leaders need to be open minded

11th April 2017

Published in

man and woman sitting at a desk in a meeting room

 

There’s a fair amount of political upheaval at the moment, and that’s translating into a period of uncertainty in the business sector too.

In order to survive whatever trials and tribulations the future might bring, we need to learn to adapt. Our flexible serviced offices and meeting rooms enable your business to do just that, of course, but it’s about more than just the space you work in, it’s about the environment too.

Business leaders must learn to be more open minded, which means being receptive to the views, ideas and knowledge of others. An open mind can be an unstoppable force in driving business strategy, building culture and enhancing the financial performance of your company. As TED speaker Roselinde Torres explains, being open minded also makes us better leaders. Here are four reasons why:

1: An open mind helps us solve problems

Most of our education teaches us to think linearly—we focus on getting from Point A to Point B along the path of least resistance. In some ways, this is great. It means we achieve our specific aims practically and efficiently, which saves us time and resources. But when we’re faced with new challenges, applying the same problem-solving methods as we always do won’t necessarily work.

Having an open mind helps us think more critically, especially when faced with unpredictable circumstances. It helps us see the bigger picture and think more laterally about how best to solve a problem not only in the short term, but in the long term too. No two problems will ever be the same, but an open mind makes us more adaptable to finding solutions.

2: Open minded leaders develop a sense of empowerment within the team

Leaders are responsible not only for being the best they can be, but bringing the best out of those around them. A leader who listens empowers employees to bring new ideas to the table. It helps team members build confidence that their voices will be heard, and fosters a sense of loyalty to your business too.

It’s especially important for high performers, who want to take ownership for the job they have been hired to do. They want to feel like they have the ability to make decisions, fix any problems that arise, and this sense of empowerment makes them willing to accept greater accountability for any wrong decisions. This is how employees learn, grow and ultimately succeed.

3: Being open minded makes us more tolerant

We all have our own ideas about how best to go about this or that, and no two people think the same way. But having a closed mind can prevent us from listening to any ideas that don’t align with our own. A business leader that blocks out different, perhaps fresher perspectives, creates an environment of intolerance, which makes employees feel demeaned and unrespected. They might just be blocking out the best ideas too, simply because they’re not their own.

A leader who maintains a mind open to new ideas does not allow ‘politics’ to get in the way of their business’s success. It enables leaders to embrace whatever the best idea is, regardless of who thought of it, and drive the idea forward whole-heartedly. By instilling this attribute in their team, it fosters stronger working relationships across the organisation and allows collaboration to occur more freely.

4: An open mind keeps your business ahead of the curve

Most industries today are quickly evolving, which means the old tried and tested methods for success are likely to be redundant—and may even have adverse effects—as ever new developments come into play. The only way to ensure your business survives is to stay ahead of the curve, which means being receptive to new business practices and trying something new.

Maintaining an open mind as a leader or employee means you’re less likely to get stuck in a rut when going about your everyday business tasks. Being open minded makes us more naturally inquisitive, which in turn makes is more able to better ourselves and improve our knowledge and understanding, day-by-day. Researching new trends and interpreting old data in new ways might just be the key to keeping your business the best.

Being closed minded, or having a mind completely unreceptive to new ideas has just one outcome: sure failure. But the benefits of open-mindedness are, as you might expect, open ended. Whether you apply an open mind in your business practice, leadership practice, or in your everyday interactions, you can guarantee business success!