Great leaders balance confidence and conviction with a zeal to learn and a willingness to revisit and reconsider. To accomplish this requires a deep comfort with diversity – to seek experiences and perspectives beyond what is most familiar or mirrors our long-set beliefs. Most leaders are given many opportunities to broaden their knowledge and experiences – through global interactions, intellectual forums and market pressures. However, we all know people who have had these experiences but who still seem largely unaffected by them, as if they have armor that “protects” them from the changes that experiences offer.
We also have values and principles that give us a moral compass about how to conduct ourselves and to hold our organizations to standards that shape its actions. These are essential to navigate effectively in a turbulent world. However, all of us also have deep-seated beliefs, largely unconscious, that govern our thoughts and actions. Leaders with edge are willing to look at these beliefs and reshape them based on the world they live in today rather than the world of their childhood. This self-awareness and willingness to embrace current reality, without letting go of enduring values, creates a capacity to continually learn and change without being thrown off-balance.