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Leadership Nudge® 326 – The Ladder of Leadership Simplified

Use the Ladder of Leadership to move from a permission-based team to an action-based team that takes ownership and gets things done. It’s a magic tool.


I don’t want to over complicate this idea of Intent-Based Leadership. It’s really very, very simple. Every time someone comes to you and says, tell me what to do, you don’t tell them what to do.  You resist that urge. Now, where you go exactly from there depends on where they are, where you are in the context of the situation. 

But we would frame it up like this:
Hey, tell me what to do. I’m inviting them up to higher levels. What do you see? What do you think? What would you like to do? What do you recommend? What do you propose? And what do you intend to do? 

Now the difference here is with level four, the team needs approval before moving forward. This is what we call a permission based organization and is the most common structure that we see. I request this, I get a stamp of approval, I can go offer a bigger discount, I go launch the product, whatever it happens to be.  

In an Intent-Based organization, we flip the bias so that the default is we’re gonna do it unless you stop me. So there’s a veto. There’s still veto ability, resting on leadership. But now, the team is going to do it if there’s no response.  Hey, tomorrow noon I’m meeting with a client.  I intend to offer the following discount. I sent that email. I don’t get a response. I’m still good. I’m still going. I’m not held up and not panicking and not making a last minute phone call to the boss to see if I have permission to give this discount. I’m doing it. 

That’s the power of intent. That’s why you get ownership and alignment. It’s alignment because we can check on the behaviors and the activities before the decision is made. But it’s ownership because it’s coming from the team. 

I’m David Marquet. This is the Ladder of Leadership. It’s a magical tool. That’s your Leadership Nudge.



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