The Forbes Online article by Karl Moore and Richard Pound, Volunteering – A Great Way To Learn Real Executive Leadership, Dec. 2011 (link below), creates a good argument for refining leadership and management skills through volunteering. However, one term they used, which might have been a typo, really got me thinking.
Citing the practice of encouraging employees to volunteer and take on voluntary leadership roles Moore and Pound assert, “[volunteering] provides an excellent way to prepare for a senior executive position.” And, “By volunteering for projects in nonprofit organizations, experienced executives can hone their supervisory and leadership skills.”
Moore and Pound use the term “Permission Leadership”, which suggests, “…without the compensation and organizational authority to keep their teams productive and working toward shared goals, volunteer managers must be adept leaders and persuaders as they tackle all the same management issues they face in their corporations”. In essence they then lead by permission. In the same paragraph they go on to say, “Because corporate managers volunteering in nonprofits don’t have titles to define their positions, they have to practice what some call ‘per mission’ leadership.”
I really can’t decide if their switch from “permission” to to the term “per mission” is intentional, or a typo. In my mind, “per mission leadership” expands on the idea presented by Moore and Pound and adds the following. Permission to lead must be acquired “per” mission. Not only do leaders have to create an environment where people let them lead, they often need to do that over and over again as missions expand, change, grow, and volunteer staffing changes. Just because you have gained permission to lead a team planning an annual fundraising event that does not mean you have authority (or permission) to lead a group of volunteers that are gathered to perform facilities maintenance. In other words, “permission leadership” may need to be acquired/gained/renewed on a “per mission” basis.
What do you think?