The importance of openness in leadership


Opening upIn Executive Coaching or in our leadership modules, one of the muscles we stretch and expand on is “openness”. It’s an important one to be challenged on, as many leaders like to see themselves as open and discover in the coaching process that they aren’t as open as they thought.

It also happens that leaders truly believe in openness and realize that they miss out on the powerful impact, because they don’t know HOW to communicate in a way that opens up communication for others to engage.  For instance, being direct and straight forward more often shuts down people instead of creating a space for openness. Here we have good intentions with a negative unintended impact. The secret lies in the “how” to communicate!

Sincere and true openness, authentically communicated with consciousness and awareness of one’s impact creates an environment of trust and allows our leadership impact to be influential.

I’d like you to take a moment and think about what openness means to you, how you communicate it and how it impacts your leadership.

Openness starts within yourself

Now here’s the scary thing: we open up or shut down people or opportunities in direct proportion to how open or shut down we are to ourselves. How open are we really? It’s easy for us to be open to new markets, new possibilities in business, to a new job, a new strategy, new ways of doing things, open to motivating people etc. On a scale from 1 to 10, how open would we rate ourselves towards the opinions of others?  How open are we to the feelings of others? How open are we really to those people with a whole different approach to life and work?

And openness from within goes beyond that. It starts with us!  How open are we to our own fears, to our own limitations, to our own invulnerabilities? How open are we to our own feelings, our own thoughts? How many times have we suppressed thoughts we do not want to think or feelings we don’t want to feel? How open are we to face our own inner truths and realities?

If we are not open to our own inner self, we cannot be truly open to the outside. Unconsciously, there’s a tension field created between the strong, competent, results-driven leader on the outside and the fearful leader about revealing too much of our true selves on the inside.  In other words we are open to external matters like work etc. but out of touch with our own inner world of realities.

If we are out of touch with ourselves and our own inner world of realities, we cannot touch others and create an environment of trust and sincere openness.

Openness is a process  

Expanding and stretching  our muscle of openness is a transformational process from deep within. If we have not allowed openness in our leadership, it feels awkward in the beginning as it is out of our comfort zone. It’s about gaining inner strength and confidence to step into our vulnerability as a leader. It’s about integrating the quality of being honest and willing to talk about sensitive, difficult things and being comfortable with it.  It’s about integrating the quality of truly valuing and being willing to accept other’s opinions and ideas, detached from ego. It’s about integrating the wisdom our inner world holds for us into our leadership to the outside. For example, for some of us, the challenge to opening up might be rooted in a personal or business fear. If we do not allow ourselves to feel this fear and explore it, it will manifest itself in a road blocker and we will cover it up with resistance. If we recognize it and work with it, this fear becomes a growth challenge.

Truly, what people are looking for in leaders is to see and feel the human being from within through your words and actions to the outside!

Openness is a choice

Often, leaders are so busy with their work, their targets, their results….that they forget about themselves and they grow out of touch with themselves. Working on our openness from within, leads to more openness on the outside.  The impact in leadership of true authentic openness is one of deep trust.

The desire for more openness cannot be forced. It’s a hunger from within, a conscious choice to make and the journey starts when you are ready…

Here’s a question to ponder on:

What becomes possible and available, when you open up to openness from within?

I hope this blog inspired you and look forward to your opinions, thoughts, feelings your reactions and reflections!

Nicole

P.S. If you are hungry for expansion and feel the urge to take action: contact me at +41 43 888 55 01 or drop me a line at nicole.heimann@5cconcept.com to explore if executive coaching is your way to go!

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