Where Have All Our Leaders Gone?
By: Heather Hilliard
February 14, 2019 3 min read
Once the pinnacle of power in an organization, the trend over the past 10 years has been to reduce leaders to “Mr. & Ms. Nice Guy/Girl.” Somewhere in our evolution, leaders who exercise position power and decision-making authority in the interest of achieving results and aligning performance have fallen from popularity.
What has emerged in its place is Permissive Leadership, an approach to leading that is not really leading at all, but actually abdicating one’s leadership authority. You wouldn’t ask a child for their input on how the household budget should be run or tell them to cook dinner without showing them how to cook or going through the recipe with them. However, Permissive Leaders ask people for input beyond their expertise and give them freedom to perform their tasks with the minimal of interactions because they believe it “empowers” them.
It’s not the fault of Millennials
Leaders today are quick to blame the millennials – their work ethic, sense of entitlement and need to be coddled – for performance and behavioural issues. Leaders have been bombarded with messages about how to lead millennials, given the perception that they are easily offended, so their emotions must be carefully considered in any decision or interaction. But the rise of Permissive Leadership is not the fault of the millennials. Regardless of what generation they come from, most employees want and need effective leadership to help them to succeed in their role and in their career.
The Permissive Leader, usually with little experience or education on how to lead people, allows employees to take liberties and make their own decisions because they need them to. They allow too much freedom, believing that people will give back for everything that they have been given. They resist their natural impulse to assert themselves and lead, instead choosing to mute their power out of fear for the emotions or reactions of their employees and a driving need to be liked.
Learning to lead with authority
Permissive leaders are self-protective. They are choosing to lead in a way that makes them feel safe and prevents their fears from being realized. To shift from permissive leadership to leading with authority, requires the right combination of building self-awareness, learning and applying new leadership skills and addressing systemic barriers that exist in the organization that reinforce the belief that leaders need to remain permissive to be “successful”.
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Originally Posted on Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard’s LinkedIn Page – October 23, 2018
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