Leaders Exchange Ideas

carl rogers communication jean piaget leadership leadership development Oct 17, 2022
Leaders Exchange Ideas

I sometimes use an opening in my speeches where I ask someone if they have a $20 bill and if they would come to the front with the money. I then wave a $20 bill of my own. I ask the person if we could exchange the money. Then, I exchange my $20 for their $20. I thank them, and they head back to their seat. I then ask how that impacted the amount of money each of us has. People catch on quickly that exchanging exact money for exact money leaves us no better and no worse than before. I then ask if the same person exchanged an idea with me and each of us had 1 original idea, how many ideas we would have after the exchange. We would each have an extra idea that could change how we view the world.

This is the exchange we need in our world. We need people to have well-formed, exploratory ideas that seek to make the world better. We have plenty of people that wish for others to give their ideas and comply with the ideas of others. That isn’t leadership. Leadership is seeking to understand truth from multiple angles. It is seeking innovation as a pathway to greater success. It is listening to understand, learn, and grow. It is giving up the need to listen to rebutt or prove a point. Great leaders are seeking the exchange of ideas rather than the dominance of others.

Dr. Carl Rogers said that the exchange of truth in a meaningful conversation is the path to healing. He used this model of listening to understand and then paraphrasing what he heard back to the person as a way of opening up their understanding of themselves. I love the idea that we, as leaders, have the ability to make people better simply by intentionally engaging in the positive exchange of ideas. By creating meaningful conversation, build a model of learning that comes from within. Educational psychologist, Jean Piaget, spent much of his adult life studying the acquisition of knowledge in children. He proposed that the model of our interactions was the basis for their acquired knowledge.

Whether we are talking about leading our kids to greater understanding or developing our employees' potential, we have a tremendous responsibility as communicators. Our capacity to limit distractions (including our own preconceived ideas), engage nonverbally, clarify through questions, and create a feedback loop will serve as the format for idea exchange. These steps allow us to explore the truth inside each of us. They allow us to seek wisdom from one another and from each interaction. They allow us to lead through the exchange of ideas. Will you focus on leading through the exchange of ideas today? I believe you can!

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