3 Steps to Influential Leadership: Step 1 – Allowance

Not Allowed

While there are many ideas and theories about what makes up influential leadership, there are three ingredients that are ‘necessary, but not enough.’ 

They are necessary for influential leadership, but not sufficient. 

Of course, there are many more ingredients to cook up influential leadership, but whatever recipe you are using to help improve your leadership skills, these three will definitely add some flavor! 

See them all: | Part 1 : Allowance | Part 2: Service | Part 3: Reactions |

Ingredient #1:  Allowing

“Whether it is for personal development or in a family or business setting, there requires an acceptance period or a “process of allowing” which helps to bring the fruits to our tables.” ~ Edward G. Drennan

Do you ever find yourself having to “force” something to happen with one of your direct reports, team members, clients, or even in your personal relationships?

As Dr. Phil likes to ask:

“How’s that working for you?”

Allowing is a tool that some of the best leaders have turned into an art.  They use it judiciously – in the right amounts and at the right times.

Recipes for Allowing

Allowing requires faith, trust, a little coaxing from time to time, a dash of intuition, and the willingness to let go – not exactly what you would find in most business school textbooks and curriculum.  It is allowing on the part of the leader that lets creativity flourish, good employees become better, and the best employees to become extraordinary.

When your work team becomes better and extraordinary, you become a better and extraordinary leader.

Although, the art of allowing is popular in Law of Attraction literature, that’s not exactly the art of allowing that I’m talking about.  It’s similar in concept but not as ethereal or necessarily mystical.

Defining Things

Let’s look at the definition of the word allow.

al·low (verb)

  1. to give permission to or for; permit: to allow a student to be absent; No swimming allowed.
  2. to let have; give as one’s share; grant as one’s right: to allow a person $100 for expenses.
  3. to take into consideration, as by adding or subtracting; set apart: to allow an hour for changing trains.
  4. Archaic . to approve; sanction.
  5. to permit something to happen or to exist; admit

(From: Dictionary.com Unabridged)

When a leader gives permission for someone to do something or time for something to happen, it gives a stamp of authority.  It legitimizes it.  Allowing is a form of permission or of granting time to someone to do their job or a task without you micromanaging.  This is a gift of freedom and respect.

As Bryan Wolff pointed out in a recent L2L post, “People don’t follow by accident.  They follow people who they respect.”

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

With all freedom comes the potential for abuse, so the wary leader allows but doesn’t take their eyes off the ball, either.  Allowing does not mean letting go of accountability.

But without the gift of freedom from the leader, great potential will never be realized.

That’s where your faith and trust come in – and those are nurtured over time.  A judicious understanding of who, what, and when are required when allowing.  You may need to occasionally coax or maybe even coach, but the art of allowing is mostly ‘hands off.’

On Trust and Allowing

My boss is amazing at allowing – but it didn’t happen for me overnight.  After I earned her trust through several projects and I had proved my mettle, she began to use allowing with me.  She has allowed my skills to develop and flourish through tasks and responsibilities beyond my job description.

Once she sets the basic rules of the game, like what’s the expected end product or outcome and when it’s due, she simply allows me to go and do my best.

  • She trusts I’ll come to her or collaborate with others if I need help and she has faith in my abilities
  • She trusts
  • She respectfully watches over
  • She allows

Jason Monaghan affirmed how the greatest leaders establish trust in his latest L2L blog on teams:

“Teams start with trust.  Just like the best coaches, the best business leaders establish authenticity and trust before all else.”

On Allowing and Empowerment

While allowing can be frightening for a leader, it is empowering for the direct report, the student, team member, or partner.  That empowerment builds a sense of gratitude toward the leader that can, over time, lead to admiration and deep respect.

The leader who recognizes the power of allowing recognizes the legitimate needs of others to enact their mission, add their contribution, to give of themselves, to develop, learn, and grow, and to flourish.

Adam Beck writes this:

“Leaders with the ability to coach and mentor have a clear advantage over others.  Here it is all about empowerment and allowing freedom for innovation.  The leader must allow for this to happen and offer guidance, advice, and corrective actions when necessary.”

What techniques are in your art of allowing recipe cabinet?  How do you balance managing outcomes and allowing direct reports to flourish – to shine – on their own?  Do you have any stories of when using allowing turned out great?  How about stories when allowing backfired?  What did you learn from that?  What other ingredients do you think are “necessary but not sufficient?”

See them all: | Part 1 : Allowance | Part 2: Service | Part 3: Reactions |


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Alan Mikolaj is Author and Lecturer at A Travel Guide to Leadership Training

He helps clients become happier, more successful, and to become the better leaders
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Image Sources: fc08.deviantart.net

5 responses to “3 Steps to Influential Leadership: Step 1 – Allowance

  1. Pingback: Leadership updates for 05/27/2012·

  2. Thanks for a worthwhile read. Trust is essential for effective leadership. Those of us in positions of authority need to remember that trust works both ways.


  3. Pingback: 3 Steps to Influential Leadership: Step 2 – Service « Linked 2 Leadership·

  4. Pingback: 3 Steps to Influential Leadership: Step 3 – Reactions « Linked 2 Leadership·

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