How do you become a leader that everyone wants to work for? Lead by permission and not by authority.

Every boss has a title. That title gives them an authority to lead, make decisions, delegate, instruct and discipline. Successful leaders view their title and role as an honor given to them by their employees. Their employees want to work for them because they’re great leaders — not because they are in a position of authority.

A great leader has employees who are inspired and motivated by the leader alone, and not his or her title. Through words and actions, a great leader causes employees to feel as if they work with their boss and not just for their boss. Many bosses don’t even recognize there’s a difference, but great ones do. Leadership is a privilege. Great leaders are given “permission to lead” and should take that responsibility very seriously. When you lead by permission, you create an atmosphere of collaboration and continuity that ultimately leads to your teams’ success.

It takes a tremendous amount of humility and self-confidence to be able to lead with permission and not allow your ego into the equation. Successful leaders know that their integrity, character and passion will define their legacy and earn them respect. Additionally, permission leadership requires trust. Your team will continue to allow you to lead if they trust that you have their best interest at heart, and not just your own. Transparency is equally as important as trust. If you are transparent with your team so that they can understand the reasons for your decisions — and believe that those decisions are in the company, team and individual’s best interest — they will continue to trust you to lead.

John Maxwell in The 5 Levels of Leadership says that when a leader learns to function on the Permission level, everything changes. “People do more than merely comply with orders. They actually start to follow. And they do so because they really want to. Why? Because the leader begins to influence people with relationship, not just position. Building relationships develops a foundation for effectively leading others. It also starts to break down organizational silos as people connect across the lines between their job descriptions or departments. The more barriers come down and relationships deepen, the broader the foundation for leading others becomes.”

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