One of the four I’s in the Bass model is Intellectual Stimulation. Bass says that transformational leaders involve followers in working through problems and encourage them to find innovative solutions.
While this makes sense, it’s not always easy to do. I’ve worked with many leaders that have a very difficult time letting people do things in new or different ways. An important question is to ask “are they doing it wrong, or are they just doing it differently?”
If someone’s approach is going to yield the needed results, within an appropriate time and budget, give them the autonomy to proceed and help them evaluate the new process. You may find that it’s an improvement.
But what if it’s not better? I worked with a department that saved a lot of time by skipping several unnecessary process steps. Or at least it was working until it was time for the annual report to the regulatory agency. Suddenly those steps were critical and there was a lot of work to re-create them.
When considering intellectual stimulation, ask yourself these questions:
- Do they clearly understand the goals and boundaries of the problem?
- How can I help them see the big picture?
- How can I encourage them to generate creative solutions and support their efforts to try new things?
- What assumptions may be getting in the way?
- What barriers can I eliminate?
How did it feel when one of your leaders challenged you in this way? How can you provide that for others?
Dee Anne Bonebright