The second level of leadership is permission.
If you are in leadership you might say, “Sure, sometimes I let my people give me their opinions. But I make the decisions.”
But that is not exactly what the level of permission is about.
Giving your people permission to participate in decision making and even planning how outcomes will be achieved is good. If you do this at least some of the time, then they will have more at stake in their work and will probably perform better.
What the level of permission means is that the people under your watch give you permission to lead them. It means you’ve earned their trust so they follow you because they want to.
If you’ve been in sales or made a new friend, you know that trust has to be earned. In the world of friends, if you betray one, she might just shift her loyalty to someone who gives her a better return on her investment.
Consider the cliche: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Here’s a translation. You can order someone to do something, but you can’t make him want to do it. If the relationship does not transcend this level, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle of wills.
You might also find yourself behind your desk a lot doing interviews.
So what has to happen to get permission to lead from those you are responsible for?
Think of it this way. If you hire someone to mow your yard or fix your car or remodel your house, what is the one thing you’d most likely say is the reason you chose the one you did?
It’s summed up in one word – likeability.
As I write this, there’s an election coming. The news is covered with story after story of each Presidential candidate. And how does the media and the candidate convince you to vote for him or her?
You vote most often for the one you like the most.
When you like someone you’ll listen to what she says. You’ll spend time talking to her and compliment her from time to time. You do this easily when someone is likeable.
If you want to lead well, be likeable. Let people know you care about them and do it regularly. Then you won’t have to campaign for permission to lead – you’ll earn it.