As a business advisor and speaker, I meet lots of people. Many of these are leaders; of companies, organizations, and other groups. One of the first things that I notice about people is their receptiveness to two things: learning opportunities and good advice. I’ve found through experience that the most effective leaders are receptive to both of these things. Why is this the case?
Simply put, smart leaders:
- See opportunity everywhere. There is a way to get success in every situation, you just have to find it. Sometimes, the answer is relatively easy, while other scenarios require more thought and imagination. Opening your mind to the ideas of others or new ways of doing things is essential for progress.
- Are not afraid to say “I don’t know”. Anyone who gives the impression of knowing everything lacks credibility and is easily detected from others. Recognizing when knowledge is needed is the impetus to learning, and being able to say “I don’t know” is a part of moving forward, turning vulnerability into productive action.
- Recognize that every situation is a learning one. Leaders who cast off interactions as irrelevant or beneath them aren’t benefiting from the powerful mindset that has the ability to learn at any time. This approach recognizes that lessons could be modified to apply to a particular situation or passed along to team members who could benefit. An open mind looks for ways to make knowledge useful, not the opposite.
- Are not threatened by successful people. Talented individuals bring strategies and knowledge that can accelerate progress and benefit others. Being in the presence of accomplished people is an opportunity, not a threat, and smart leaders would never pass up a chance to learn from this type of experience.
- See what hasn’t yet been achieved. Leaders who rest on their laurels or think they have every base covered don’t see what is left to be done. Taking this approach can be dangerous for an organization, resulting in a blindspot to challenges that exist, falling into complacency, or being surpassed by those that are willing to put in the effort. An open mind seeks out the strategies and tools to climb the mountain that is on the path ahead, as opposed to ignoring it.
If you’re in a leadership position, or aspiring to get there, how open is your mind? Are you learning everything that you can or falling into the trap of not being open to opportunity? Smart leaders know there is only one answer. Do you?