Why The Best Leaders Stay On Top: The Secret Behind Their Decision-Making Strategies

By Travis Cross

May 5, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


People are both lazy and afraid to change, not wanting to adapt unless they see a massive benefit in doing so. They’re afraid to adapt to new technologies or change their lives because what they’re doing in the present is “working”. Businesses will deny upcoming trends and rationalize their decisions by comparing profits against the upward trending competitor’s—taking solace in the fact that they are currently on top. Examples of businesses failing to adapt can be seen in Netflix taking down Blockbuster, Amazon taking down Borders, and smartphone cameras taking down Kodak.

We can see examples in our own lives through older generations that failed to embrace new technologies (i.e. the internet). It cost many their jobs, and at the very least created an anxiety to contemporary culture that is heavily driven by digital technology. There is an ignorance in our culture from successful leaders that espouse messages such as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, “defy the critics”, and “stay the course”. By adhering to these beliefs and failing to consider new information that might affect our business (or our lives), it causes one to fall behind and become obsolete.

One must understand that a “strong-headed mindset” is not the best attitude one should have in trying to remain atop the leaderboards through a constantly changing technological landscape.

Al Pittampalli’s book, Persuadable, teaches that

the secret to success and staying successful is to make the best decisions by being persuadable.

Learning to be persuadable is the key to success

Being persuadable means being open-minded. However, it’s not enough to just be passively open-minded. Leaders who stay on top are actively open-minded.

The best leaders actively seek out information that is contrary to what they think their best decisions are, wanting to find holes and criticisms in their decisions in order to make their perspective as well-rounded as possible.

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful hedge fund investors, is renowned for always making smart, sound, never-failing investments. When asked how he did this, he said it came down to taking out the confirmation bias he had in his decision making process. Instead of making a decision through the limited knowledge he had, he brought in experts to actively poke holes in the rationale of the decisions he wants to make. By Dalio allowing himself to be persuaded by the expert opinion of others, he addressed and changed his approach with the new information he received, thereby making the best decision possible.

Being Persuadable Gives Us Three Advantages

Being persuadable gives us three major advantages when we use it: accuracy, agility, and growth. However, accuracy is above all the most important because it is the catalyst to agility and growth.


By being actively open-minded, we know that we do not have all the answers. Therefore, we seek out experts who can help us navigate what we don’t know through what they do know. By allowing ourselves to be persuadable, new information can update our beliefs and allow us to make more accurate judgements on how the the field we are navigating truly looks. By closing the gaps in our knowledge, we can confidently move forward knowing that we’ve done everything we can do to prepare and adapt.


Agility is the need to adapt to a fast-changing world. Digital technology is constantly innovating the landscape in which business is conducted and how we live our lives. Social media was irrelevant ten years ago but has now has gained serious traction in being an important aspect in audience engagement. By being agile and paying attention to new innovations, they are able to stay on top of trends and implement new game strategies to get a lead on everyone else that is lagging behind.


By incorporating new innovations, we continue our business growth and remain ahead of the constantly changing field. One of the keys to growth is called “deliberate practice”—practicing through feedback and improving upon it. We need to constantly re-evaluate ourselves and our ideas in order to improve—paying attention to weak points. Studies have shown that we are bad at assessing our own abilities, but much better at assessing others. Get others to evaluate you to make the most accurate assessments possible. Again, do this by being actively open-minded and seeking out less biased information from friends, family, business clients, customers, etc.

By utilizing the secret of being actively open-minded, we can overcome our own biases and potential mistakes to seek out the trusted opinions of others and make the most accurate decisions possible for a brighter future. We must cover our bases and develop the most accurate assessments possible through the resources we have, ensuring our decisions are going to be better than if we had done them alone, or closed-mindedly tried to make them ourselves. Is it enough to be passively open-minded? Do you agree that being actively open-minded is the key to being able to make the best decisions possible?

Travis Cross

Travis is trying to change the world, one idiot at a time. He writes about success, personal growth and becoming your best self.

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