Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Permission or forgiveness?

I've just read Tribes by Seth Godin. A great read and the phrase that sticks with me is that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It meant a lot to me because I've often used this when I've been asked to describe my own approach to leadership.

I've been accused of being careless in my approach to issues and change, but I think that's the point. I don't mean to be careless but if you are going to lead any change you have to first understand you are going to tread on toes, you are going to upset people. If you didn't it wouldn't be change. It's the very nature of leadership that you believe that something needs to change, you are passionate that an opportunity needs to be taken, or that you need to overcome a problem. Being a leader actually means caring, it means caring enough to take a journey, to overcome and work with the obstacles you are presented with.

To lead beyond authority you need to accept that you won't be able to get permission in advance. Once you do that and you start your journey to make something happen it will then all start to fall into place. The journey to this point though is what I think leadership development is all about. So then leaders accomplish their goals and they complete their journey, what are they then asking for forgiveness for? Is it for taking on the challenge and leading the change, or is it for upsetting a few apple carts along the way? I guess it depends on how well they led the change, and in turn this may be what affects whether they can build the natural authority to lead change a second time around....

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