Today’s polarized political climate is disturbing to many. We’d like to think our organizations are more unified. We definitely want more civility at work, even when opinions on issues differ. How do you as a leader set a tone that both honors disagreeing perspectives and keeps the organization moving forward?

First, understand that each person (even you!) has a unique perspective. Theologian Richard Rohr wrote, “Every viewpoint is a view from a point.” It takes a concerted effort to keep an open mind, and it produces the best decisions and actions. Business leaders who consider their audience’s perspective and who are conditioned to see the world from someone else’s point of view produce the best outcomes, according to a study published recently in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Second, understand that everyone (even you!) is subject to cognitive bias. So much of our brain’s work is unconscious, and we aren’t aware of the types of judgments and assumptions we’re making until it’s too late. The key to overcoming our hard-wired ways of thinking is to include someone else – preferably someone with a potentially very different perspective. Encourage this person (or persons) to consider radical ideas and to (metaphorically) slay sacred cows.

Finally, some sage advice that has been shared by Bob Sutton and others: Have strong opinions that are weakly held. Be willing to change your opinion based on strong evidence.

“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”
― Malcolm Gladwell

A dynamic culture and great outcomes require curiosity – an openness to new and conflicting ideas that will inevitably bring an expanded perspective.


Have a foolproof method for keeping an open mind? Comment below or message us.

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash.