To be Open is to have Courage

Organizational Culture Leadership Vulnerability Openness Courage

‘Openness’ means different things to different people. To some, it’s the courage to try new experiences or to be vulnerable, while to others it equates to transparency.

In this 2-part series, I explored each of these interpretations that make Openness seem like an abstract concept in a professional context.

Experiencing the unknown by delving into the depths of the previously concealed can be daunting, but also liberating. In the workplace, Openness could help us become not only better employees and leaders, but also better problem solvers and team players.

The courage to try new experiences

Being receptive to new ideas and experiences that might be outside the carefully constructed walls of our comfort zones, allows us to view situations without our lens of bias.

  • Openness can fuel creativity because it involves looking beyond what we have been conditioned to see. When we explore the unknown, we open our minds to learning, which could eventually lead to an ‘awakening’. It’s often the outlandish ideas that have the potential to lead change or disrupt our everyday habits. Thanks to the unconventional visionaries who dared to challenge the norm, we get to live the way we do now. To be open is a conscious decision anyone can make, all it takes is having a growth mindset.
  • Openness can foster camaraderie among teams and result in better professional relationships and outcomes for businesses. When team members feel safe enough to share their varied viewpoints, exchange ideas, and actively listen to one another without judgement, they might discover ground-breaking solutions.

The challenges of the times are giving us an opportunity to adapt to the changing environment. Businesses around the world had to modify the way they operate, introducing new experiences for their customers. Educational institutions from primary schools to universities needed to adjust, and the students and their families had no choice but to cope and learn. The list goes on but life as we knew it, did a full 360º turn in a matter of weeks. No aspect of this rapid shift in our present behaviour would be possible without the element of Openness. It is through courage and the willingness to be open to unprecedented changes and the uncertainty of the future, that we are able to approach each day like a new beginning.

The courage to be vulnerable

Vulnerability is one of the most misunderstood words in our everyday language. It is often equated with weakness, while in reality, it is a sign of immense strength and courage.

  • Being vulnerable in the workplace does not mean sharing your deepest personal secrets, nor does it mean exaggerated displays of emotion. It simply means having the courage to be your most authentic self. It means being open to listening to what others have to say, whether it is positive or constructive. It means finding your voice to share your thoughts and opinions and accepting the possibility that your colleagues might not agree with you. This is after all, why having open communication is critical to success at the workplace. Progress cannot be made in the absence of diverse viewpoints and approaches.
  • Vulnerability is about seeking progress by acknowledging that there are aspects of ourselves or our work that could be improved upon. It is never about achieving perfection.

For leaders, vulnerability could mean acknowledging that you can be wrong too. It’s being open to suggestions of those less experienced than yourself. It means having the courage to accept a better idea when you see it. When leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable, their teams make room for growth.

 For service frontliners, vulnerability means being receptive to feedback on a daily basis, whether it is feedback from a customer, a peer, or a supervisor. It means showing up and doing your best despite having no control over the outcome. Being receptive to feedback is not easy for most of us unless we have trained our minds to be open and accept that we are usually not the best observers of our own behaviour. When we are vulnerable enough to accept or embrace feedback, we become open to opportunities for growth and improvement.

To be vulnerable in the workplace, there needs to be a shared understanding and an environment that supports safety, respect, and trust among peers and leaders, as well as with the customers who walk through our doors daily. Simply put, to be open is to have courage.

Watch SatisFIND’s Reboot S1, E5 for a quick lesson on how to practice Openness in the Workplace. I would be happy to hear your thoughts on Openness, Transparency, and Vulnerability. You could send me a message or leave a comment below.

Akanksha Ghildiyal

A passionate and proactive Marketing, Strategy, and Hospitality professional in the week | An experimental baker, home-chef, binge-eater, and binge-watcher over the weekend