The One Word Leaders Must Embody: Open
Updated: Sep 8
Open and not closed
A leader who is open is poised for opportunity. When you are open, you can embrace learning in the present and lift your eyes toward the horizon with hope and optimism. Openness is a sign you have lived, experienced some pain along the way, and emerged better rather than bitter. It is a testimony that you are eager to learn again.
Openness is not a superficial ruse to gain short-term advantage. Leaders embody openness when difficulty becomes transformative. Painful experiences can become the greatest threat to openness or a catalyst for learning. Personal failure can give rise to fear or enrich your perspective. Openness is not a sign you have travelled an easy road. Openness signals deep growth and connects you with others. Life’s painful experiences have healed sufficiently to allow for exposure.
Openness is Your Choice
Openness is a courageous choice. The experiences that lead to brokenness create a bifurcation, a proverbial fork in the road. You can choose the path of openness or you can choose to become increasingly closed. When you choose to become more closed, it is a futile attempt to protect yourself from future pain. When you select the way of openness, vulnerability and authenticity, you move toward purposeful opportunities to connect with your own humanity and the humanity around you. Brokenness is the pathway to greatness if and only if you glean from those experiences and share them with others.
Here are three practical signs that you are becoming a leader who embodies openness.
You are Open to Receive and to Give Feedback
Openness leads to thoughtful communication. Thoughtful communication is enriched with honesty. Effective communication requires giving and receiving truth. It requires you to be open. You cannot give if you are unable to receive. You cannot receive if you are unwilling to give. What is the most valuable feedback you have given this week? What is the most valuable feedback you have received?
When we have such adaptive confidence, we become genuinely open to all forms of feedback. We are better able to embrace the truth of the dynamic world. When we do this, we learn and adapt. We then further grow in awareness, competence, and vision. Yet becoming externally open is an extraordinary thing to do.
You are Open to Live Authentically.
Building a façade of leadership robs you of energy that could be invested in others. Open leaders do not hide behind a veneer that masks their real identity. They dig deep and examine their own assumptions and beliefs and learn how to integrate those values into life each day. When you are closed, you will reject any feedback that does not confirm what you want others to see. Life becomes a series of inefficient calculations designed to protect yourself. When you discover and embrace your identity, you will be free to lead with greater efficiency and effectiveness. How have you adapted this year?
You are Open to Learn.
Openness is a recipe for learning. You live and lead in a dynamic world. Leaders need openness to grow. Openness revitalizes curiosity.
Curiosity, or the strong desire to know or learn something, is more than just casual interest; it is a thirst for knowledge and understanding, and a hunger to seek out novel experiences. Curiosity grows from a deep-seated belief that what you don’t know is more interesting than what you do know.
Are you open? Self-understanding and social awareness will not flourish in a closed system. Openness cures stagnation. It is your recipe for learning and growth. Check your openness. What are you curious about today?