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April 2, 2012

Don’t Ask Permission: The 4th Leadership Key To Balance Authority & Collaboration

by Dr Rob Pennington

By Stephen Haslam and Robert Pennington, Ph.D., Resource International

This is the fourth in an eight part series on Balancing Authority and Collaboration

The 4th Key: Don’t Ask Permission
The first three keys in this series focused on how the inevitable resistance to authority inhibits collaboration, and that it is important to address employee’s concerns for the tasks they are expected to do, the positive impact to expect, and how any changes will affect the employees themselves. But this should not be a process of asking permission.

Don’t let the process of understanding concerns turn into a series of gripe sessions. When preparing a mission the United States Marines follow the principle, “Decide, and then invite dissent.”* Officers don’t ask the soldiers for permission, but once the mission is defined they do expect heated debate about the best way to execute the mission plan. Every possible challenge should be confronted, all possible risks mitigated. As a result, by the time the troops engage everyone is on board because their concerns were addressed in the planning stages.

The ultimate objective of using these techniques is to establish a work environment in which everyone feels safe to disagree so that communication is more open and work is more productive.

The 8 Keys To Balance Leadership Authority & Collaboration

  1. Position Power & Personal Power
  2. Expect resistance to authority
  3. Address levels of concern
  4. Don’t ask permission
  5. Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”
  6. Engage leaders at all levels
  7. Demonstrate respect to build trust and commitment
  8. Get tools in your tool belt

* Resources

Leadership Development: How to Get the Results You Need by Haslam and Pennington.

Reducing Resistance to Change and Conflict: A Key to Successful Leadership by Haslam and Pennington.

Kotter, John P. (2003).  The Power of Feelings, An Interview with John P. Kotter, Leader to Leader, No. 27, Winter 2003.

Bridges, W., & Mitchell, S. (2000).  Leading Transition: A New Model for Change.  Leader to Leader, No. 16, Spring 2000.

Hall, G. E., Wallace, R. C., & Dossett, W. A. (1973).  A developmental conceptualization of the adoption process within educational institutions (Rep. No. 3006). Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin, The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 095 126).

Rob Pennington and Stephen Haslam work with leaders and managers.  Find out more at Resource International,

Read more from Rob's Blog Posts

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