Have you ever thought in terms of needing to gain the permission of those you lead, in order to effectively lead them? Leaders who only lead from a position of power and authority never think in terms of permission. Leaders, who really care about the people they lead however, will want them to follow because they “want to” and not because they “have to”. Leading people who freely give you permission to lead them is foundational to building a positive productive culture. Only caring, capable and trustworthy leaders can gain permission from their followers. Here’s an Old Testament example from the leadership of King David:
Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, “We are your own flesh and blood…you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the LORD told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader.’” So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the LORD with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel. (2 Samuel 5:1-3)
The people wanted David to lead them. He had their permission to lead them because they could identify with him and they trusted him. They knew he had their best interest in mind. David was a confident and capable leader who had demonstrated many times that he cared about his people. They thought of him as a “shepherd”. How do those you lead see you? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Only people who feel valued will want to add value to your organization. You will always gain momentum toward reaching your goals when leading a team of people who want you to lead them. You will gain their permission when you demonstrate competence, model character and show compassion. This is not a one-time or quick fix thing. It takes time to fully gain permission to lead from those on your team. You can’t bribe, manipulate or trick people into giving you permission to lead them. In simple terms, it’s all about earning their respect. If your team respects you as a leader, they will give you permission to lead them. Think of some ways you can give them reason to respect you today.
“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in himself or herself, a leader is interested in the group.”
~ Russell H. Ewing