Episode 3: Allowing

In this series, we're focusing on nourishing a culture of leadership by applying timeless principles of life to the art of leadership. In this episode, we're exploring the principle of abundance and how cultivating a belief in an abundant universe can impact your leadership and the results you experience in your organization.

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Leadership Development Focus: Allowing

You may be asking what allowing has to do with leadership. We offer you the opportunity to consider skillfulness with allowing as important in your leadership development.  Thank you for making use of this opportunity. Our intention is to support you in developing your leadership.

At first, the thought that we recommend to you to learn to be skillful at ‘allowing’ may even seem offensive to you, as though you are a boss with all of the power who allows people certain privileges.  If you are giving us the benefit of the doubt, you will be saying ‘they probably have a different meaning for allowing and so I will stay open in my perspective to find out why they are saying that being skillful at allowing is important in my leadership development’.

Many wise authorities who teach formulas for success include getting into the habit of ‘allowing’ as an essential ingredient in that formula. For example, Deepak Chopra in his best-selling Seven Spiritual Laws for Success speaks about detachment from outcome as essential for success. In other words, he teaches about allowing. One of our favorite teachers, the late Angeles Arrien, in her book The Four Fold Way, summarizes her research from indigenous peoples around the world. In every indigenous culture, there is a teaching of detachment from outcome, or allowing as part of accomplishment.

This teaching is contrary to how we are commonly taught to accomplish goals in our western society.  You may have been taught about goal setting, objectives, targets, and milestones. In this teaching, you are unlikely to have been taught about the role of allowing in order to accomplish a personal goal or an organizational goal. Goal setting has its place and is important and useful in creating a roadmap.

How people move within this map is another aspect that needs to be considered. When a leader is skillful with the use of allowing, they create the conditions for people to choose to use their best efforts to accomplish the goal. Allowing in leadership means that you allow people, things, and situations to be as they are, to be the best they can be—without judging them, trying to fix them, or wanting to change them. Create the container for the people to flourish, create the conditions for people to rise to the occasion and give it their best, and then get out of the way by allowing them to get the job done. In the tradition of the indigenous peoples of the world, and we all have indigenous roots at some point in our genetic lines, allowing or detachment from outcome prevailed as a key ingredient in humanity’s evolution.

How Do We Develop The Capacity For Allowing?

The key to developing your leadership capacity for allowing is to develop a willingness to shift beyond your current tendencies towards control and manipulation. Yes, you will need to work with your will to master allowing. This can be one of the greatest struggles you go through as it seems paradoxical at a deep level to allow rather than control to get to the outcomes you envision.

For instance, there is a methodology for really productive meetings called Open Space Technology. Frequent participation using this method for meetings increases the capacity of the participants for allowing just by the act of participating in the meeting. One reason for this is that the four principles that guide behavior in an Open Space Technology meeting all are elements of detachment from outcome, of allowing. The four principles are:

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could happen
  • When it is over, it is over

These meetings have a thirty-year track record of creating the conditions for people to be there best, be innovative, have crucial conversations that make a difference, and produce actionable outcomes. The principles, when followed by the facilitator, the leaders, and the participants, create the conditions for allowing. It is helpful to have an attitude that whatever happens is going to be even better than any pre-conceived plan.

Developing Your Capacity to Work with Allowing


In our leadership development work, we use anchoring as a tool so that the leadership development focus is anchored in what you are dealing with, and is not left hanging as an abstract concept.  To anchor the importance of allowing in your leadership development, take note of your current thoughts about allowing and imagine how being skillful with allowing could improve the way a current business predicament could be solved.

Capacity Building Exercises

  1. Take some time for personal reflection on the topic of allowing. What do you need to do to be comfortable with the idea of allowing?
  2. Learn the four principles and find ways throughout your day to remind yourself that they are principles of allowing.
  3. Hold meetings in a sitting configuration of a circle, all the while, training yourself to follow the four principles.
  4. Keep your focus on allowing…at home, at work, and with yourself. Discipline yourself to notice your allowing and the results.
  5. Imagine having capacity and skillfulness with allowing. How will you engage this capacity in your leadership?

If it makes sense to you, add growing your capacity with allowing into your personal leadership development plan.

About the Developing Leadership Series

We work the Genuine Contact way, nourishing a culture of leadership, applying timeless principles of life to the art of leadership. In this learning series, Birgitt Williams and Rachel Bolton are sharing our own wisdom and insights about the art of leadership. We'll be inviting you to consider your own experiences in life and business so far, and how you want to further your leadership development with this theme.

In this series, our intention is to offer you unique opportunities to continually develop your leadership. By developing your leadership you expand your potential. Your life changes and you gain greater insights and capacity for leading your life. Your leadership of your team, organization, congregation, and even your family brings about possibility thinking, transcending ordinary thinking and ordinary results.

In each episode, we will be exploring one key principle. You will hear our own experiences and understanding of each of these timeless principles.  We'll suggest simple activities you can do to develop your own leadership by working with these principles too. Find more episodes below and subscribe to receive future episodes by email.

Rachel Bolton
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We specialize in developing leaders, teams, and organizations for the new leadership paradigm of "leading so people will lead". In this series, our Dalar team of Birgitt Williams and Rachel Bolton are sharing our own wisdom and insights about the art of leadership.
Rachel Bolton
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