Several years ago I taught a leadership development class for non-English-speaking managers. This was my first experience teaching outside of the United States with participants wearing headsets while listening to simultaneous translation.

We were very fortunate to be accompanied by a high-spirited, wonderful translator with a great sense of humor. When there was no direct translation for a word or phrase, she would pop out the door of the booth high above our heads, wave her arms and stop me until she explained my point.

The topic of one session was influence – being open to influence and a change in perspective. The door flew open, and we struggled together to find the right combination of words to help participants gain understanding of the concept.

When words failed, we turned to 3-D pictures. With the translator’s help, I instructed the students to take turns looking at each card, trying to see the hidden picture.

The concept of change in perspective became a hit. I challenged the students to try not to see the 3-D image once they had seen it. It is almost impossible. They discovered that once they could give up their old pattern and be willing to look at something in a new way, a world of possibilities opened up.

Those who gave up too quickly on the game -- and some did -- may have intellectually grasped the concept but they didn’t get to enjoy the learning and the deeper meaning in the same way as their colleagues.

Changing perspective is another way of describing changes in mindsets. Leaders need to be mindful of their own mental blocks and how they affect their ability to change perspective.

  • What do you love about learning and exploring new ideas?
  • Would people describe you as open to hearing their ideas and being influenced to change your perspective?
  • What mental blocks are preventing you from being open to experimenting with new ideas?
  • How do you help your colleagues overcome their mental blocks when you are proposing a new idea?