In order to protect your sanity, you may have limited your time viewing social media and cable news programs in 2018, but you probably still noticed that polite discourse, cooperation, and mutual understanding have gone AWOL this year. Divisions have been emphasized, while abrasive behavior and stubborn refusals appear to be valued more than constructive progress toward common goals. Many of us would like to exclude ourselves from political conversations entirely, and yet politics are not just idle talking points—they form the issues that directly affect our lives. Politicians represent us, and as representatives, they act as resonators of our own moods and preferences. Sadly, noise for the sake of noise draws attention, particularly on social media, and this has become the measure of a successful interaction: Whoever exhibits the most irascibility, stubbornness, and volubility wins a larger captive audience.
If your goal is just to have a captive audience, regardless of what each member of that audience thinks of your ideas—congratulations! But if you have to move from there toward solutions and progress, as every business leader does, you may have painted yourself into a corner. Rarely do profitable solutions emerge from grandstanding, unilateral decision-making, refusing advice or input from reports, and working strictly from ideology without consulting the realities of the industry or the workplace. Ironically enough, behaving this way tends to obstruct progress toward the very goals that a strong leader wants to achieve.
So what makes a strong leader in 2019? I predict that receptiveness will be the key component. Shutting down and refusing to hear alternatives will no longer be mistaken for strength and self-reliance. They will be recognized as traits that discourage growth, change, and adaptability.
I am slightly averse to perfunctory resolutions for the New Year, because the enthusiasm for them too often dissipates by February (if the temporary surge in gym attendance in the month of January, for example, is any indication). But since we tend to make resolutions anyway, why not consider receptiveness in the workplace as an aspiration? You may be intensely anxious to succeed, and you may believe that coworkers, team members, and reports should regard you as infallible and omniscient, but if these attitudes prevent you from getting the ideas and information you need in order to reach goals, what good are they? You may be surprised what simply listening to others in 2019 may do toward managing inevitable changes efficiently and effectively.