Featured Book for March:
“Think Again” by Adam Grant
This month in Darren’s Corner we will explore “Think Again” by Adam Grant. Grant, an organizational psychologist, a professor at Wharton, and a best-selling author examines the benefits of being able to question your own opinions and doubt what you know to develop a more flexible, open approach to excelling at work. In the book, Grant dubs this ability as “re-thinking.”
Although there are many great takeaways in “Think Again,” I will focus on three concepts that have greatly resonated with me:
- Re-evaluating how services are done within an organization
- Questioning why things are done the way they are
- Creating psychological safety for new hires and young professionals
The key to evolving from a firm mindset when engaging with others is the ability to instill humility into your way of thinking and to always have it on display. Those with confident humility have faith in their abilities but retain sufficient doubt and flexibility to recognize they could be wrong. Because of this trait, they remain curious, flexible, and always seeking the truth. Having a business culture that fits these ideals ensures the best decisions are made by ensuring that antiquated ideas don’t continue to drive bad decisions. So what do you do when you encounter someone who seems to be tightly rooted in their own beliefs? Ask open-ended questions, which will not provoke the preacher or prosecutor mindset, and engage in reflective listening, which shows the individual that you are interested in hearing their point of view and prepares them to return that courtesy
Grant calls out the instinct to dig our heels in when our opinions or viewpoints are challenged. This is without question due to years of being taught that overconfidence is a strength, and second-guessing your well-formed opinions could be a sign of weakness, certainly from a leadership perspective. He outlines three common psychological personas that we use to enforce and defend our mindset: Preacher, Prosecutor, and Politician. Instead of falling into one of these mindsets when challenged, Grant encourages the individuals to “doubt what you know, be curious about what you don’t know, and update your views based on new data.”
In the book, Grant defines these mindsets as:
- Preacher: When we hold a fundamentally inarguable idea that we passionately express, protecting our individual ideals as sacred
- Prosecutor: When we pick apart the logic of “the opposition’s” idea to prove our own point, often focusing on the flaws in others’ ideas
- Politician: When the focus is to sway a crowd or sway with the crowd in order to stay in a relative position of power
One common thread between each of these is that, whether you have the Preacher, Prosecutor, or Politician mindset, you’re focused on changing someone else’s mind or standing your ground instead of listening to what they have to say.
From a leadership and an organizational health standpoint, it is vital that you create an atmosphere where people can be wrong, can change their minds, and can challenge each other’s views across the board in a healthy way. In order to create an environment like this, all individuals must be confident that they have psychological safety. In this environment, employees can take risks without fear of punishment or reprisal from leadership or their peers. Psychological safety gives younger associates the courage to speak up during meetings and know that their voice will not be lost on the more experienced personnel within an organization. Not only does this make new hires more comfortable, but it also gives those in leadership positions an opportunity to showcase their humility.
In summary, “Think Again” breaks down the dangers of holding too tightly to your biases, and also provides tools to help evolve your way of thinking and interacting with others. Grant offers forward-thinking techniques and powerful scenarios that can forever change how organizations and people work.