Permission to Lead

So, you have the title. You have a team. You know what the expected outcomes are. Now, it’s just going to happen, right? They are going to show up and do great work, hit all the goals and stay for the rest of their careers?

If we, as leaders, want our team to show their best selves, do great work and engage with the work, each other and us, then, no. It’s not just going to just happen by virtue of you saying so. Connected leadership, where people are excited to be involved and enthusiastic about producing their best work, requires much more than a title, authority and just showing up.

It’s a common mistake, for sure. Both new and seasoned leaders alike fall into the “because I said so” trap. The right to lead is not bestowed upon us by succession or appointment. Leadership requires permission. Without winning their hearts and earning their trust we get, at best, obedience and conformity. A leader in name only. This leaves unrealised collective and individual potential on the table and once it has gone, it’s gone. We only get to deal with now and plan for the the next moments.

Permission is granted by those that you lead. We, as leaders, must earn that permission. We must take time to build relationships, to earn credibility and trust. In embracing our discomfort we can move into this vulnerable space and connect with the very real humans that are our teams. We can find the courage to have honest conversations in a constructive way. In time, we can cultivate a strong culture built on aligned values and behaviours. That culture must then be protected with enthusiasm, vigour, consistency and fairness.

This is not all sunshine and rainbows, nor should it be. I’m not suggesting for a second that there are not challenging conversations to be had and difficult decisions to be made. In fact, this is a necessity in any high functioning team. Accountability matters, including yours. Especially yours.

This concept has always been important, and no more than ever. Remote working has become a necessity for many. Team members are working in isolation. That permission has never been more important, or fragile.

When we earn the permission to lead, it is not an indefinite guarantee that it will always be there. It will always be a work in progress. Something that requires curation, attention. Leadership can never be assumed, permission must be earned.


If you are challenged by gaining engagement from your team, get in touch with myself and John at Performance Nerds where we specialise in helping teams and leaders find their best.




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