The last time we talked about the Five Levels of Leadership we discussed the foundation or the starting point for everyone “Position”. Without a position or the right to lead there is no reason to follow you. “You are taking a walk by yourself”
This time I would like to talk about the second level or step in leadership. This step in leadership is called permission. It is called permission for the very simple reason is that people give you the permission to lead them. While you were at the position level people begin to enjoy being around so they begin to follow you because they get along with you (Permission).
This occurred for me when I worked in a fast food restaurant. I like this example because working in fast food people do not have to follow your leadership. I was working on the night shift and I was asked to work during the lunch rush to help straighten out the slow service. This is always an awkward position because you are going to a new team to diagnose a problem and help correct it.
Well my first steps were very uneasy because I was the new guy being brought in and everyone thought I was against them from the beginning. So instead of trying to be mister-fix-it, I tried to learn what each team members responsibility was. The simple step of understanding what others did and treating my teammates with dignity and respect, people began to follow me and take my recommendations as recommendations not as personal attacks.
At this point I held a leadership position (Level 1). Now through simply understanding and listening to my teammates people began to follow my lead because they wanted to (Level 2). I had developed a working relationship with the team, their perception of what I was there to do began to change as we continued work together. We began to make strides toward servicing our customers better, higher food quality, and better team morale. This is not a simple credit to me because I am such a great leader, no,it is a credit to the talented people that I worked with. My job was not berate and dehumanize the team, I was there to bring the best out of the talented individuals in place.
Here are some points to remember about Level 2 “Permission”:
- Keyword is relationships
- People follow because they want to
- Makes following fun
- People go farther than they could alone
- Excellence is possible
- People will not go along is they cannot get along with you
- The relationships you develop are the foundation of your leadership
- Leaders really need to like people
- People follow when they don’t have to
- The first sign of leadership is coming through
When people follow you because they want makes leading a joy to do.