We live in an age where we are expected to be certain. And if we are not certain, we at least are expected to act as if we are. The problem with certainty is that it can lead us to becoming closed to alternatives. The more that we match the expectations around being certain, the less likely we are to being open to admitting that our position may not be the correct one. Certainty that is not open to challenge can lead to a dangerous approach that is more about command and control than it is about leadership.
Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer with N2Growth, writes about Leadership and Changing your Mind. He talks about how “the rigidity of a closed mind is the first step in limiting opportunity”. Leaders according to Myatt should be more worried about the right outcome and not focus on being right. Where leaders become obsessed about being right, those around them become less willing to challenge them which leads to group think and a failure to see problems before the arrive.
Smart leaders are not afraid of being challenged. As Myatt notes, they “don’t tell people what they should think, they surround themselves with great thinkers”. Recognising that you may not have the only answer allows you to take on board other views, refine your position or even abandon a line of thinking as a bad idea. ” When you fear being wrong more than being proven wrong you have arrived as a leader.”