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No One Is Too Senior to Be Wrong
Everyone agrees that close-mindedness is a disease that undermines effective leadership. Leaders who presume they are right and refuse to consider other points of view make a mess of whatever they encounter. The quality of their decisions can be found at the dollar store.
When combined with a feeling of entitlement or privilege, inflexibility in thinking or decision-making becomes a curse that few teams or organizations can recover from. Anytime a leader believes they are too senior, too experienced, or too smart to be wrong, place your money on the other team. This one is doomed to fail.
Thankfully, it is rare to find a truly dogmatic leader who operates from the premise they are always right and beyond the need to consider other views. But that doesn’t mean leaders are safe from an occasional moment of close-mindedness. The likelihood of shutting the mind is highly correlated with a feeling of power or status in a given moment, so good leaders remind themselves of this tendency as a way to prevent it.
But there is something more leaders can do to combat any inclination to lock out alternate viewpoints and opinions. They can learn to survey the opinion of others before announcing their own. The rule of knowing what others think before communicating their own view requires a momentary openness that fights off rigid thinking.
Asking others to state their opinion slows down the internal thinking process and softens the commitment to any particular view. Applied when experience or status suggests a dictated path should not be open for discussion, the step to survey what others think or believe exposes any flaws in the preferred opinion. Even the most dogmatic of leaders are shaken by a host of other views and opinions.
The key is this: The rule is not just about asking for competing or alternate views before announcing your own. The rule is to ask for all of them. Knowing what every other stakeholder thinks, no matter how unnecessary that appears at the onset, is what opens the mind.
The best leaders feel the need for this survey at precisely the moment when they don’t want to hear any other points of view. They believe adherence to this rule prevents them from raising the drawbridge and hunkering down behind the walls of self-protection. They know from experience that no one is too senior or experienced to be wrong.
A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose.