Leaders must often make decisions with insufficient information. In order to avoid disaster, both leaders and employees must be open to sharing information with others and willing to admit when they do not know something or when they make a mistake. This twofold plan will enable the entire organization to be open to learning, and thus more likely to be successful in the long term.
There is a simple four-step process to help leaders become more open to learning:
1. Be a neutral observer: Be honest about the current situation and observe new decisions, choices, and informational input related to planning and execution.
2. Assimilate and understand: Look at information from every angle and use that awareness and discomfort as motivation to change.
3. Analyze and gain perspective: Detach from emotions and think about the impact or possibilities the new knowledge will have on current and future situations.
4. Decide when to be proactive and how to react: Take small steps to methodically implement the process of incremental change.
It is important for both leaders and employees to resist judging themselves or becoming defensive as they learn how to open up to learning. They should repeat the four-step plan as many times as necessary to manage this new onslaught of awareness and knowledge.
The failure to learn is almost always driven by feelings of insecurity, fear, and rigidity, but great leaders learn how to push past these emotions and open themselves up to learning. In particular, great leaders learn how to toggle between task and process-driven thinking in order to be more conscious of what they need to do to achieve results. As they do this, they will become more comfortable with making mistakes and learning valuable lessons from these failures.
In order for leaders to impart the knowledge they are assimilating, they must communicate it effectively using four different methods:
1. Communicating information horizontally with colleagues on the same level of authority.
2. Communicating vertically with senior staff members and staff at the lower levels.
3. Driving information, communication, and authority down the chain of communication.
4. Sharing important knowledge and key information with others both horizontally and vertically.
Once becoming open to learning themselves, great leaders release knowledge and information to help both their employees and organization as a whole become empowered and successful.
Design and Developed by WPoets