For three years now I’ve been working tirelessly on a new book. And although it won’t officially be out until January, today, I’m thrilled to be able to finally tell you about: Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World (Harper Business).
Take a stroll through the business section of Barnes & Noble and you might arrive at a distressing conclusion about our society: we are obsessed with becoming persuasive. Shelves are jam-packed with bold advice for converting others to your cause, books like: Get Anyone to Do Anything, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Secrets of Closing the Sale, and How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded. But as we all relentlessly pursue the one word, tactic, or principle that will help us convince someone else, we fail to ask ourselves an obvious question: is it possible I’m the one who needs to be convinced? The truth is—most of us aren’t short on persuasiveness, what we’re short on is persuadability. In business, politics, relationships — we frequently lack the genuine willingness to change our own minds.
One of the key reasons for this deficit of open-mindedness is that changing our minds is perceived as a weakness in our culture. Instead, strong leadership has always been about decisiveness. Great leaders – we’ve long assumed – stand firm in their convictions and stay the course. But as the world continues to grow more turbulent and complex, a surprising shift is occurring. In every imaginable field, a stunning number of successful leaders are breaking away from the traditional leadership archetype. In order to adapt to an increasingly uncertain world, one after another, they’re progressively moving toward a new, flexible way of thinking: persuadability.
Persuadability is the genuine willingness and ability to change your mind in the face of new evidence. Being persuadable requires rejecting absolute certainty, treating your beliefs as temporary, and acknowledging the possibility that no matter how confident you are about any particular option—you could be wrong. And in Persuadable, I profile eminently strong leaders who have used persuadability to achieve exceptional success for themselves, their organizations, or society as a whole. You’ll learn how Ray Dalio became the most successful hedge fund manager in the world by recruiting an entire team to try to falsify his ideas. How Alan Mullaly saved Ford Motor Company, not by staying the course, but by continually changing course. How one Nobel Prize winning scientist discovered the cause of ulcers by bravely doubting his own entrenched beliefs. You’ll learn how Billy Graham’s change of heart helped propel the civil rights movement, and how a young NFL linebacker’s radical new position may prove to alter the world of professional football as we know it. Hopefully these stories will inspire you to decide to become persuadable yourself.
But just deciding to be persuadable isn’t enough. No matter how much we think we’re being open-minded, it’s surprisingly difficult to look at evidence that challenges our beliefs objectively. That’s why I don’t just explain why you should be persuadable. Distilling cutting edge research from cognitive and social psychology, I show you precisely how. Specifically, you’ll learn the seven practices of persuadable leaders:
- Consider the Opposite
- Update Your Beliefs Incrementally
- Kill Your Darlings
- Take the Perspectives of Others
- Avoid Being Too Persuadable
- Convert Early
- Take On Your Own Tribe
Full of actionable advice, Persuadable is an invaluable guide for any leader looking to navigate a highly uncertain world. You may never see the act of changing your mind in the same way again.
I’ll share more about Persuadable in the weeks and months to come, and I’ll be blogging on the topic of persuadability more actively on this site from here on out. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this book and I can’t wait for you to read it.