Great Leadership is about Freedom

As a differentiating value, freedom means the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints. You know it when you have it – and when you don’t. It’s fairly easy to know if your leadership inspires freedom or fear. All you have to do is look at your people and see how they act. Here are four telltale signs you’ve inspired freedom in your people:

1. They take appropriate risks – They know that if they use their best judgment and take a risk that the boss will support them regardless of the outcome. Freedom inspires ownership and engagement on the part of employees. Leaders who inspire freedom in others have team members who know they are trusted to do their jobs the right way and they act responsibly because they value and appreciate the trust and confidence from their leaders.

2. They aren’t afraid to speak truth to power – Freedom-inspiring leaders foster an environment where people know they can give honest feedback without fear of recrimination. When’s the last time a team member approached you to express disagreement with a decision you made? If it’s been awhile, don’t automatically assume it’s because everyone agrees with your decisions. They might just be afraid to tell you the truth.

3. They readily admit their mistakes – People who work in an environment of freedom will bring their mistakes to the boss’ attention, most likely after they’ve already resolved the problem (because they aren’t afraid to take initiative to fix their own mistakes). Freedom inspires looking at mistakes as learning opportunities instead of occasions for discipline or punishment.

4. They share their heart with you – If you have employees share their fears, hopes, and dreams with you, then you know you’ve inspired freedom. That means they’ve let down their guard, they trust you, and they’re willing to be vulnerable because they know you won’t judge them or take advantage of them. If you’re people aren’t afraid to open up to you, then you’re doing a good job fostering freedom.

Summing-up: Leadership should inspire people to be the best versions of themselves. It should encourage others to manifest the full expression of their intelligence and creativity, and in order to do that, people need to be free. They need leaders who foster an environment of freedom and liberty rather than fear or oppression.

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