The Ten Principles of Permission-Giving
I’ve been asking permission all my life.
I raised my hand, in first grade, to ask Mrs. Goodwin for permission to use the restroom. One finger meant I had one thing to do. Two finger meant, well you get the point.
Authority figures have been giving and taking permission since mommy said, “Don’t touch!” Permission-giving lives on in organizational life as well.
Remember when you stepped on someone’s turf. What happened? You got a good hand slapping. (What age does “hand slap” apply to?)
Ouch! “You won’t do that again.”
Embarrassment from overstepping keeps you in your place.
The Ten Principles of Permission-Giving:
- Fear of overstepping keeps people from stepping out. Under-performance results.
- Your response to those who act without permission establishes organizational culture.
- When people keep asking you for permission, you’re the one with the issue.
- New employees need more permission than old. Don’t just say, “Go do it.” Lack of boundaries keeps people in the safe middle.
- Systems and processes are institutionalized expressions of permission.
- Effective permission-giving identifies “No Trespassing” zones.
- Authority is permission to act without permission.
- Top-down organizations thrive on permission-giving.
- Highly regulated industries require permission-giving.
- Permission-granting is both privilege and responsibility.
Bonus: Give permission to give yourself permission.
Need for permission holds back.
Six ways to give permission:
- Give permission before they ask. Just go around giving it.
- Ask, “What does permission look and feel like to you?” Give it.
- Explore where artificial boundaries prevent initiative. Eliminate them.
- Explain limits. Understanding limits is more important than understanding permission. Once limits are set, everything else is permission. Tell them what they can’t do.
- Celebrate failure as learning.
- Affirm initiative. When people take action without permission, go nuts.
How can leaders create environments where people take initiative?
What are the limits of acting without permission?