Think back to when you were in school. You had to raise your hand to ask permission when you wanted to ask a question or to leave the classroom. Sometimes in public forums, the same etiquette holds true. Your teachers and parents would call this being polite. It becomes ingrained in you and sometimes those habits may be difficult to break.
Fast forward to joining the workplace and the way it works is quite different. Your boss doesn’t want to give you permission for every little thing. They want you to take initiative, to make decisions and to go execute what you need to do. This article entitled Power versus Empower by Beth Comstock who is the Vice Chair of GE talks about this very topic. Her point is that people are waiting for permission to do things when they should recognize that they are empowered to just make it happen. Do they not feel empowered? Have they always asked for permission and haven’t made the adjustment to not doing that anymore?
In some ways people use waiting as a way to delay decision making or to move forward. “I am waiting on someone else to give me information, then I can make the decision or start working on this project.” This will create the perception that you are a follower who makes excuses, not as a leader who drives things forward. How could you give yourself permission to do what is needed and not wait on anyone else? Think about how you could get the information some other way. How could you still make progress if you don’t have it? Waiting around just leaves you stuck and spinning your wheels. If you do something and it doesn’t work out, then you can just remember a saying that I learned a long ago…”it is better to ask for forgiveness, than permission.” Your manager still needs to know what you did even if it is after the fact, but they are not going to fault you for trying. You may have to make adjustments, but you took action and tried something.
Maybe you don’t ever grow out of the habit of asking for permission. But when you are an adult, it no longer has to be permission that is given to you by someone else. You have the power to give yourself permission to make things happen. Brene Brown who is an author, speaker, instructor and researcher creates a permission slip for herself and sticks it in her pocket before she does something that is big and scary. If that would help you, then create your own permission slip. Trust that you know what to do and take the initiative. Managers are looking for leaders and leaders take the empowerment they have been given to go make things happen. I give you permission to empower yourself and try it out today! 🙂