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Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist with 25 years of teaching leaders how to be themselves, lead themselves, and then lead others. For more information on Monica or her training firm, go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com

What are you waiting for exactly to do, say, and be the leader they need? Are you looking for someone to say go? Are you looking for permission and your boss to say so? Or are you in your own way behind an invisible wall at the starting line?

New leaders often feel their momentum is stalled because they need permission to take action from their boss. Even leaders with tenure in their management role, can be found to find comfort in holding back until someone says go. What if, no matter the length of time you’ve held a leadership position, no matter your role, you had clear cut ways to get permission? Permission to move ahead. Permission to make progress. Permission to take a risk and permission, ultimately to be yourself? This Monday Moment will give you seven such strategies to have that permission granted and become the better leader they’ve always wanted.

Get Clear

Studies of buying behavior and selling strategies tell us that the easiest answer for a potential customer to give is “no”. It is given more readily when the choices are not clear or there is inherent confusion in what’s being asked. When seeking permission to go forward on a project, purchase, or acquisition of a much needed team resource, (all forms of selling, of course!) focus in on a succinct description of exactly what you want and be able to convey that description in three short bullet points.


While this step seems so simplistic, waiting for permission is the more often used strategy. If you want permission to move forward, make your case and clearly ask the question. Stop being so subtle your boss doesn’t get it. Avoid the temptation to believe that your leaders will eventually notice why you’re stuck and willingly admit it’s a problem of their own making. (Translation: your boss is not likely going to see, or often believe, he is the one is the way of you moving forward)

Determine Authority

In sales, this strategy is usually described as getting to the decision maker. Many salespeople will tell you that they’ve learned the hard way when leading a sales process, to avoid telling all the information and making a big presentation to someone who can’t place the order in the first place. Does the leader, manager, boss or person, from whom you’re asking permission, have the ability to give you permission the first place? Look closely as authority, and the perception that people have it, can be deceiving.

Use Confidence

A request from someone made with conviction, whose confidence and belief in the value of their request is obvious, is compelling. Multi-level marketers know this. Great sales people know this. The best leaders know this. In fact, the very concept is likely the originating idea behind sayings like “fake it til you make it” and “never let them see you sweat”. Your leaders and those granting you permission to do what you ask, want to have confidence in their own response to your request. Confidence being contagious…show them confidence and you’re far more likely to receive  favorable confidence filled answer…or in this case permission granted.

Ask Again

Not any one strategy works 100% of the time and multiple factors must be in alignment for permission to execute a complex project to be granted. Sometimes the timing isn’t right. Other times the people are not all in place. Other times, there are reasons to which you may not be privy that prevent the answer you want from being easy. In this case, persistence pays in getting permission. As the old saying goes “Ask, ask, ask, and ask again. That is, if you really want that order.” Note, asking again is not the same as “be obnoxious”, so exercise equally persistent professionalism in all cases.

Respect Timing

Look at the big picture. What else is on your leaders’ plate? What are the factors that could weigh heavily or influence the answer you seek? Is the timing right for you to get permission to do what you’re wanting to implement or execute? Respecting the timing of your question and your choices is a sign of good leadership, including the effort of giving yourself permission to be the authentic you. Are there times when that’s appropriate and times when it’s best to use a well-developed learned behavior, even if it’s not natural?

Give it to Yourself

For many leaders, the biggest barrier to being themselves, leading themselves well, and leading a team effectively is, in fact, themselves. We are often the greatest guilty party for getting in our own way. To get permission to be yourself, give yourself permission to do so. To get permission to be happy with the team you have, the position you hold, or the salary you’re paid to do a job, give yourself permission to do so. Sometimes getting permission is more of an inside job and simpler than most realize. Are you holding you back from the permission you seek? If so, this is the primary reason others aren’t seeing your confident belief and are thus, supporting the effort of holding you back.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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