Is Your Leadership System Open or Closed?

5576582865_49289e40b6_zOne characteristic of a successful leader is an openness to learning, exploring and trying new things, with an awareness that some may work out well while others only serve to teach what not to do again. Regardless of the result, to succeed as a leader you must operate according to an “open system” where you are receptive to new ideas.

Here are some question to ask about your leadership to help discern whether you operate according to an “open system” or “closed system” as a leader.

Do you only talk to people who believe like you do? Do you surround yourself with people who think, believe and talk like you do? If so, you likely feel safe but are not really challenged to think deeply about what you believe.

These are important people to have in your life, but if that is as far as it goes for you as a leader, then you are living in a closed system.

Successful leaders open up their minds to thinking through tough issues related to their area of leadership. The only way for you to be effective in your area of leadership is for you engage in reading, thinking and talking about the difficult issues that push you outside of your comfort zone. If you do not, you will be leading and living in a closed system.

Have you surrounded yourself with people who tell you only what you want to hear? Many leaders are not even aware that they are doing this. You may think you are open and anyone can tell you whatever is on their mind when in reality the people around you are only willing to tell you what they think you want to hear.

Reasons vary regarding why people tell you what you want to hear, but one common reason is based on past experience. Perhaps others witnessed you respond defensively or aggressively when someone tried to tell you something that you did not want to hear. Based on that responses (or responses), the standard was set for everyone else, including family and close friends, and now people will only tell you what you want to hear.

The deception of being in such a closed system is that you think everything is fine and you are doing a great job when, in fact, you are not but no one around you is willing to take the risk and tell you what you do not want to hear.

Have you allowed yourself be accountable to anyone? Perhaps you avoid accountability because you do not trust other people. Perhaps you tell yourself that, as the leader, you must not appear vulnerable to those you lead. Instead you take pride in thinking you are a strong leader, that you don’t need to be vulnerable (or accountable) to anyone. If you are one of those “tough” leaders who has not allowed yourself to be vulnerable to or held accountable by others, you are leading from a closed system.

Leaders who are leading from an open system want to be held accountable and will be appropriately vulnerable because they know it will result in growth. It will also help protect them from making bad choices because they have people in their lives who will speak honestly to them and hold them accountable.

What is your leadership system: open or closed? If your system is open then continue leading from there. If your system is closed, I encourage you to take one small step toward leading from an open system. Start by talking to someone about what you read here and ask them to help you to start becoming a leader who leads from an open system.

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.

Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Source / CC BY