Change is hard, yet inevitable. Change is constant. Change breeds evolution and revolution. It is expectant, innovative and life changing. It is necessary.
This idea of change often contradicts the idea of a leader. Leaders focus. They set a vision. They establish a way of doing things that work best in a particular environment. Leaders encourage and calm when things get chaotic. They attempt to create stable environments where disruption remains at bay so individuals can do their jobs.
Yet sometimes disruption is exactly what is needed.
Leaders are often open to change. They have come to expect it knowing it is a part of life and particularly a part of business. However, being open to change is one thing. Being open, and more importantly, willing to change their mind is another.
The first group is open to change that is necessary and out of their control. They ride with the times and adapt as necessary. When the winds of change hit they find ways to settle the storm and get everyone back into the familiar. Change doesn’t ruffle them, but it also doesn’t define them.
The second considers what could be different. They never assume the way it is working now is the best way. They realize that the norm never signifies perfection. They understand that the ideas they had a month or year ago may need to be revisited. They are willing to question their long standing beliefs about a subject because they are comfortable that doing so does not undermine their leadership ability but enhance it.
It is the second group that becomes a more effective leader. A leader who can change their mind can lead a highly effective team.
Human nature often dictates that leaders become set in their ways. They establish routines that have always worked in the past and stick with those routines. It isn’t that they are resistant to thinking differently; it’s just that they have never been forced too – or needed to. Breaking away from those tendencies and allowing the space to change one’s mind about how things can and should be done could be revolutionary for a business.
Please note that changing one’s mind does not include or endorse flip flopping or indecisiveness. This type of mind changing only leads to breaking teams apart and lack of confidence in the leader. Leaders need to have opinions. They need to establish where they stand on issues. They need to be decisive.
Flip flopping is bad, but questioning for the betterment of a process or output is good. Many leaders get the two confused and will not rethink things because they do not want to appear indecisiveness.
The difference in the two is reasoning. If a leader changes their mind back and forth because they are trying to appease whoever may be in front of them at the moment or they are too afraid to take a stand; that creates a problem. If they are changing their mind because they assessed how things were currently working and thought of a new way, or someone brought a new way to their attention; that encourages innovation.
The teams of leaders not afraid to change their mind are constantly evolving. They are constantly questioning and constantly innovating. They are not resistant to change but instead seek it out. Therefore they are never stagnate.
Not just taking change as it occurs but creating it can propel an entire team forward. Even if the change ends up not working, the ability to try something new encourages evolution. All because a leader was open to changing their mind.
Lastly, leaders who change their mind because they have realized an error in their thinking or in their finely established process can restore lost faith and trust that employees have in their abilities. Holding tight to ideas because of ego, pride or fear of admitting imperfection only serves to alienate team members. No leader can be effective when team members have completely checked out because they realized the error months ago, but knew the leader would hold fast to their original idea.
For leaders, being open to changing their minds takes courage. It can be difficult to start at first, but once they have embraced the opportunities that this type of thinking creates, they are usually more willing to continue down that path. Encouraging that in their teams can truly create a brilliantly high performing team.
Change is inevitable; the only constant. Changing minds is not. It is a much harder idea to embrace. Doing so however, can lead to extraordinary results in a team environment.