34 | Developing Leaders Issue 31: 2019 Viewpoint must be able to step in and change things if you perceive the risk as becoming too great. Clearly there are many situations, especially in high-risk, zero-tolerance sectors such as healthcare, where changing work processes cannot be allowed without significant high-level approval – Risk & Permission allows for leaders to maintain this, but also allows them to identify those areas where that level of restriction is not required. By limiting your core leadership skills to just assessing risk and granting (or declining) permission, you set off a domino-like series of other actions. By empowering others, you are trusting them and in return you will be trusted. It requires you to set clear goals and objectives – otherwise people cannot know what their aim is. You will improve their levels of engagement – and by being more engaged it is highly likely that they will be more adaptive and innovative, and so more productive. Empowered teams tend to be more cohesive and collaborative ones too. The further advantage of pushing decision-making down the line, rather than up it as is more traditional, is that it encourages you to ensure that the correct skills have been developed to allow permission to be given. Today’s managers have tended to lose the ability to encourage and develop others. The old Master-Apprentice relationship is making a return, but it can surely happen faster. The irony of devolving decision-making away from yourself to others, is that with greater trust gifted to you, greater influence will accrete to you too. You will also, if you are doing it well, discover that you have more time for other tasks if much of your previous role has been devolved. I look forward to a time when the sign of a good leader is not how many decisions they have to make – but how few. n This article was first published in HealthManagement, Volume 18, Issue 4, 2018