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?
Good morning Dan
Ill be back later to comment on todays blog, “running my car to the garage”. You should take a couple minutes and read yesterdays responces, “BRILLIANT”!!!
Thanks Steve. Yes!!! Yesterday’s conversation was OFF the HOOK. I didn’t have time to comment but I kept reading all the great insights. Awesome! CYA later.
Connect why’s Trust emerges
All the need for the mental gymnastics go away.
Or just delude yourself into thinking you get 10’s in mental gymnastics.
I say go simple or stay stupid!!
Thanks Scott. “go simple or stay stupid” — powerful
I agree that permission is generally needed when authorities hold it. And it is also top down approach. The reason is simple- those having power have authority to give permission. Giving power has multiple perspective. Organizations having centralized power because of their nature of work must have authority to permit. They should continue to do that. Military services are the classic example. When they delegate permission, it may loose its essence. In military services, there are few people specialized and trained for giving permission because they know the consequences of that. On the other hand, where organizations need to serve clients, and customers, they let permission to line managers or directly serving employees. In other words, permission giving or taking is based on nature of tasks, roles and responsibilities.
However, there are organizations where practices play major role. Such practices may or may not achieve organizational goal, but in many case such practices promise growth to people who hold power to permit.
I appreciate your concern that it is the environment that start initiative to change.Authorities or those in power holding authorities are more concerned about their growth that any individual or organizations. They should be dealt harshly if they do not provide justifiable reasons. This can ensure organizational and people growth together.
Acting without permission take place with possibly two reasons- one with right intention where authorities do not take decision or delay taking decision. Two- where withholding permission has hidden agenda. People may not seek permission, as they also tend to develop some hidden agenda.
In all, I strongly feel that intentional avoidance in permission giving or not giving permission should be discouraged. It can be done by clearly making changes in polices and guidelines while fixing clear accountability across hierarchy specially at the top.
Thanks Ajay. One thing I’m taking away from your comment is leaders should make “permission giving” transparent, even public. Lack of permission-giving may indicate secrets and hidden agendas.
I have found your posts refreshingly on target in my professional life right now. I “stepped out of bounds” as an Administrator in my health care facility and the staff became angry. I held a 3 hour seminar on team building and that was way off base. Anyway, my wings have been cut, I now have the responsibility without the authority, which means I am a highly paid baby sitter.
When you set the guidelines for giving permission, you need to accept the fact that people will under perform.
You’re reminding me that we may inadvertently sabotage ourselves when we fall into these quagmires.
An interesting & useful post!
It’s true that the problem of seeking permission continues in organizational life due to defined job roles and responsibilities. If you want to do anything out of your limits then you need to take a consent. Nothing wrong in it! Hierarchy levels require to be respected all the time. At times, the junior staff crosses their limits and interfere in other areas and create hindrances and/or conflicts.
I am in total agreement of your stating ‘Six ways of giving permission’ for the followers to enjoy the freedom of expressing creativity and innovative thoughts in the betterment of an organization.
Thanks Dr. Asher. I appreciate you raising your voice in favor of fitting into an organizational hierarchy, where it exists. There are many places where clear roles shouldn’t be violated. In addition, when we know what the limits are we have freedom to work and excel within them.
I have an employee who comes to me to solve problems. She is very smart, and I keep encouraging her to solve things on her own. Yesterday I was so busy, I could not take time to solve her problem with SAP. (Great software, but a wonderful source of tricky problems).
I dashed off a couple of troubleshooting methods and told her to go at it. She looked hurt and disappointed, but I added, “you can do this. I trust you.” On one of my five minute breaks I walked past her desk and she was beaming. She showed me her handiwork. She had solved the problem in a way that worked perfectly. Moreover, it was a solution I had not imagined. I “went nuts” with praise. Not only was she happier, but so was I. It was a breakthrough and a relief.
Thanks Dunk. Pow!
When you said, “I walked past her desk….” I thought, that’s the secret to making this work. Go by after and affirm, encourage, guide (if necessary)… Rockin!
Love this, Dan. Definitely the most important and most powerful permission….is the permission you can give yourself.
Thanks ben. Great add! It’s a great privilege to give yourself.
I have heard it from you and John Maxwell, “Give power, Get power”. Also all the good leaders I know have at least one note in their file and have had their hand slapped once or twice.
Thanks Patrick. “give power, get power” Must be a Maxwell expression. I’ve written the sentiment but not so eloquently.
The ability to learn from and overcome a hand slapping is crucial to future success.
Yours was just fine, I passed it on to a manager right after I had them listen to John Maxwell.
“Those who cling to authority lose it.
Those who give authority gain it.”
“7 Ways to Gain Authority”
I don’t even remember stuff I’ve written… doh!! 😉
Love the re-design that you recently did. Looks great!
“Permission” controls the lesser person; “Right conduct” controls the greater one.
Most people who see an elder man with a cane crossing the street–whether it’s marked as a crosswalk or not—will stop and let him by…and perhaps even get out of our car and help him. However, there are others who need “stoplights” to govern them, or green lights to give them “permission” to go. Thus, my permission/right conduct, lesser/greater person comment.
Unfortunately, the workplace is not much different—even among professionals. Permission is like freedom. It is never given to a people: It’s earned; and having been earned, it has to be defended. Freedom is not free, even though it renders people free.
On the other hand, freedom–like salvation–is infinitely costly. There will always be those rogue few who infringe, test the strength of others, and even threaten “their own existence”—who need the parameters and stoplights of permission.
Another great blog. Thinking partners!
You had me at the title! Love it!
I start my day with your daily thoughts and this one was spot on. This should be required reading for leaders. Let people dare and even fail. You end up with an engaged workforce and nothing compares to that.
One way leaders can create an environment where people take initiative is to show that ideas can be received and implemented as appropriate. On the contrary, those who continue to bring up ideas or issues with no result will begin to withdraw.
Wow Dan, So powerful. I wish beyond wishes that people by the thousands take this to work tomorrow and hang it up. What we really need is a good old fashioned employee revolution. Micro managing does not work EVER. Corporate America listen up. Stop promoting people out of jobs they are great at, into jobs they are terrible at. Leadership is a skill. They need training and support in order NOT to become insecure tyrants.
Where is the Re-blog button?!
I just added it to the sharing bar. You should find it under more. Thanks
I have worked in “institutions” long enough to realize that sometimes ‘forgiveness’ is easier to receive than ‘permission’!
I am teaching my nephew about permission from others in my family members.