“I don’t have all the answers.” “Maybe there’s a better way.” “How can we improve?” Ideally, leaders who have these thoughts are truly open to seeking the opinions of their teams, advancing intellectual stimulation in order to find solutions. As a leader, can you identify with this style? Are you able to let go and encourage your team to think independently? Such leaders exemplify transformational leadership in action. More specifically, these leaders place high value on arousing their team’s creativity and imagination to solve organizational problems.
Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio, the creators of the four Transformational Leadership dimensions known as Individualized Consideration, Inspirational Motivation, Idealized Influence and Intellectual Stimulation describe the latter as the ability to galvanize followers to “exert extra effort.” Transformational Leaders aren’t invested in getting their teams to conform. Rather, they embolden employees by providing support, while giving them room to create and collaborate.
Throughout the course of my career as an employee and manager, I was fortunate to work with transformational leaders who encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and transcend my preconceived assumptions regarding what I thought was (or wasn’t) possible. The best leaders were those who asked questions that inspired me to use my imagination and intellect so I could discover the answers on my own. On one occasion, I needed to find a solution that could enable our sales team to grow our customer base in the midst of an economic downturn. The company had already invested in the product and I was ultimately accountable for my team’s performance. Fortunately, my leader trusted me to engage in a process of trial and error that eventually led to success. It was an exhilarating experience and taught me a great deal about bringing out the best in myself and others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, examples abound of innovative businesses shifting their resources to manufacture face masks, ventilators and protective clothing for front line healthcare workers. Companies in the food services sector have raised thousands of sponsorship dollars from their customers to prepare and deliver meals to hospitals, reinvigorating their businesses with a renewed sense of purpose. Others have provided bagged breakfasts and lunches to numerous school districts as cafeteria workers rallied to volunteer and ensure that children receive nutritious meals. Tech companies have offered complimentary webcams and educational tools to assist teachers with virtual learning and enhanced internet capabilities.
The list of employee initiatives during a very difficult period in our history has been truly extraordinary. And it would be a challenge to attempt to do justice to each of them in this brief blog post. Many industries have tapped into the brain trust of their teams, encouraging their ideas to flow and flourish.
Many industries have tapped into the brain trust of their teams, encouraging their ideas to flow and flourish. Their inspiring stories and outcomes remind us that possibilities can coexist with pandemics.
Postscript: This video was recorded prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Michelle Ray (Twitter) is one of the best international leadership keynote speakers in Vancouver. She helps you discover your potential through presentations, coaching and consulting. With over 20 years of experience Michelle has worked with hundreds of companies around the world. She is taking bookings for speaking engagements and can be contacted at MichelleRay.com