The Five Powers of Permission
Old styles of leadership are about giving permission to supplicants. Followers seek permission. It’s an “I/you” rather than “we” dynamic. Leaders have power while followers ask.
I/you leadership is disengaging and disempowering.
Leaders ask permission:
Successful leaders do more than give permission, they get it. Permission answers the question, “Is it ok with you if … ?”
Five Powers of Permission:
- “May I …” builds trust.
- “Would it be ok if …” shares power.
- “Do you mind if …” equalizes social status.
- “Could we discuss…” prevents stagnation. Permission moves the agenda forward when topics are awkward.
- “Is it ok with you, if…” engages.
Permission opens doors, protects relationships, and prevents stagnation.
Ask permission to:
- Bring up uncomfortable topics. Set a date for the conversation.
- Explore progress.
- Correct. “May I …”
- Give feedback.
- Say what you see. “Is it ok if I share something I see …”
Four responses to NO:
When permission isn’t granted? Ask:
- How business-critical is the topic?
- Is there a deeper issue to address?
- Can you let it go?
- Must you address it, regardless?
When topics are mission critical, say, “We need to talk about this soon.”
Just a courtesy:
Isn’t asking permission just social courtesy? Yes, sometimes it is. But, social courtesies smooth and protect. Perhaps you prefer to be discourteous and abrasive?
Four reasons leaders don’t ask permission:
- Arrogance. It’s too humbling to ask and too easy to tell.
- Fear of seeming weak.
- Fear of losing power.
- Authoritarian rather than relational leadership styles.
What does permission-leadership look like in your world?
What are the pros and cons of permission-leadership?