It was an honest and innocent enough sounding question.
“Rob, do most people find themselves changing their minds during this exercise?” said Ron, “Should I be open-minded or stick to my guns!?!”
This was during a teamwork simulation I was facilitating for our Beijing-based Executive MBA staff a couple of weeks ago while I was visiting them. It is one of those simulations you have probably done where you are given a situation, have to choose options of what to do on your own, and then work to come to consensus with a team on the final answer. Ron went on:
“I mean, some of the team members have brought up ideas I did not think of earlier.”
So I responded:
“Absolutely you should be open-minded. In real life situations, when a boss asks us to bring our suggestions to a meeting about a particular issue, it is our responsibility to do our own analysis and bring a point of view. But since the objective is to identify the best solution, we should definitely be open-minded to data or perspectives we had not considered before. The idea is to get the best answer, not to be right.”
And yet, I thought, how often this does NOT happen!
People often bring their emotion charged point of view to a discussion and really do not listen to others. Or rather, they “listen to respond” – and argue their point – versus “listening to understand” the other person’s view.
If we really want the best solution for the team and organization, we will “listen to understand.”
It is a special challenge for leaders who think it is their job to have all of the right answers, rather than being the facilitator of a team who identifies the right answers.
How open-minded of a leader are you, really?