Friday, April 14, 2017

Great Leadership Trait: Openness

This is part one of an eight post series deep diving into each great leadership trait. We are kicking it off with the most fundamental layer - openness, and then going up.  This is a part of the Great Leadership blog series.

Openness is very well defined by its Wikipedia article with the following meanings:
  1. Emphasis on transparency
  2. Free and unrestricted access to knowledge and information
  3. Collaborative and cooperative management and decision-making
I will also add, essentially it is openness of everything, including open communication, open-source software, open standard, open salary, etc.

As by ways of example, open-source software and its communities have proven how powerful and beneficial to society when openness is openly accepted and embraced, such as Linux, countless Apache projects that are critical to every business in the world, etc. For effective management and communication, open communication is key. And we can easily imagine what happens if we don't have open standards...but good thing we do have them. If you think about it, pay equality can not happen until open salary is adopted by every company. The list of examples and benefits, of how awesome openness is, are simply endless. Because of how beneficial it is to the human society as a whole, that is one reason that I have chosen to work for an open-source company, Confluent Inc -  we are hiring! :D, contributing to Apache Kafka, the defacto distributed streaming platform that is the foundation of a modern Internet company.

In my entire life, I always thought that I was a very open person - ask me anything, and I will tell you honestly, but only until recently I have realized I was fairly closed as I required someone to ask first. By not openly expressing myself without being asked, I was keeping things inside, which unknowingly and consequently, that inhibited my intellectual growth as information only flowed one way. As we can guess if asked, one way communication is not effective and slow and there is a lack of feedback. Without feedback, the speaker can't improve if there is a misunderstanding or problem - both listener and speaker lose. To ensure we all win and able to better understand each other - and not misunderstand, we need to have two way open communication, and of course, be constructive and nice goes a long way, which is something the next post will dive into.

Be open, be yourself, openly communicate with warmth. Talk to all of your family members, all your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, and even strangers [with some caution] because, the truth is, we are really one big family living on planet Earth with common ancestors. :) Do this at a modest pace that is fun for all parties, else you might burn yourself out as there are many people. And do keep focus on the important few that makes you happy or you might get lost.

Once you have openness solidly placed as the foundation, you will be surprised what you will find about yourself and others - in very positive ways - and it opens the gateway for the next great leadership trait: compassion. Before getting into compassion, it is crucial to accept and be mindful of S.M.A.L.L. and The Four Agreements.

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