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Strong beliefs loosely held.

 “All we can hope for is for an individual to say, “based on new information, I’ve made a new decision.” is a line in a recent blog post from Seth Godin. That line could easily be amended to read, “All we can hope for is for a leader to say, “based on new information, I’ve made a new decision.”

This builds on the post where I discussed the need for a leader to be able to admit when they are wrong. It takes a humble and strong leader to admit when they are wrong, and it takes a humble and strong leader to change their decision based on new information, research, or evidence. I have heard Peter Attia M.D. and other research driven professionals I respect talk about the importance of having strong beliefs loosely held. I have also heard Attia say that he would never trust a scientist who was not willing to change their position on a matter based on new evidence. If we expect scientists to be willing to change their position based on new evidence, should we not expect the same from our leaders?

This is not about continually waffling on decisions. This is about being open to new evidence that shows that the previous decision, made with the best information at the time, may no longer be the best course of action considering the new evidence. Look closely at the “evidence”. Opinion and conjecture are not evidence. Correlation does not prove causation. Be cautious about seeking out only “evidence” that supports your current position.

This is also not about caving into the screamers and yellers who do not like the decision you made. When you do what is right it will not always be what is popular, easy, or expedient, but it is always what is right.

As a leader you must make tough decisions based on the best information available at the time. You must also be open to new information, which shows that you need to make a new decision. Embrace the concept of “Strong Beliefs Loosely Held”. When you do change a decision ensure you communicate to people what the new evidence is, why you are making that change and the benefits of the new decision to the team and the mission. Being willing to change a decision based on new information is a sign of strength in a leader, not weakness.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey, and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning, and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at