by Dan Rockwell – January 2013
Old style leaders are about giving permission to supplicants. Their followers seek permission. It’s an “I/you” rather than “we” dynamic. Leaders have power and followers must ask.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”300px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Asking softens a tough request so the other person hears it. Asking signals you want help. Using a ‘we’ approach builds momentum within a sales team.”
Night Train Veeck
Group Sales Executive
Chicago White Sox
I/you leadership is disengaging and dis-empowering.
Successful leaders do more than give permission, they get it. Permission answers the question, “Is it ok with you if we talk about something?”
Five Powers of Permission:
1. “May I …” builds trust.
2. “Would it be ok if …” shares power.
3. “Do you mind if …” equalizes social status.
4. “Could we discuss…” prevents stagnation. Permission moves the agenda forward when topics are awkward.
5. “Is it ok with you, if…” engages.
Permission opens doors, protects relationships, and prevents stagnation.
Ask permission to:
1. Bring up uncomfortable topics. Set a date for the conversation.
2. Explore progress.
3. Correct. “May I …”
5. Give feedback.
6. Say what you see. “Is it ok if I share something I see …”
Four responses to NO:
When permission isn’t granted? Ask:
1. How business-critical is the topic?
2. Is there a deeper issue to address?
3. Can you let it go?
4. Must you address it, regardless?
When topics are mission critical, say, “We need to talk about this soon.”
Just a courtesy:
Isn’t asking permission just social courtesy? Yes, sometimes it is. But, social courtesies smooth and protect. Perhaps you prefer to be discourteous and abrasive?
Four reasons leaders don’t ask permission:
1. Arrogance. It’s too humbling to ask and too easy to tell.
2. Fear of seeming weak.
3. Fear of losing power.
4. Authoritarian rather than relational leadership styles.
Discussion with your sales team
“Managers seen as always being negative aren’t followed,” explains Gregg Bennett, Director, Center for Sport Management Research and Education at Texas A&M University. “In general, people want to be around positive individuals in everyday life and the work environment.”
- What does permission-leadership look like in your world?
- What are the pros and cons of permission-leadership?
Special thanks to Chris Radley for the cover photo.