Aim Higher: How to be a more approachable leader

Are you an approachable leader?

How can you tell, when nobody will approach you to tell you if you’re not…

 

 

Are you an unapproachable person? Maybe you don’t think so. Maybe you think you’re very approachable, but that other people just don’t “get your vibe.” Or that you’re just really busy. Or too smart or unpredictable or funny or… or… or…

 

“The first words out of your mouth can set the tone for an entire meeting… or relationship.” – Skip Prichard

 

No one will tell you

Here’s the thing.

If you’re an unapproachable leader, nobody’s going to tell you.

Because guess what: they’d have to approach you to do that.

As a leader, though, approachability is your responsibility, and it’s a key asset in creating a powerful, flexible, high-performance team—because it’s the basis of so many other behaviors that you’ll need to rely on to meet challenges, set goals, and move forward.

If your team feels you’re inauthentic? You’ll get bad information.

If they think they can’t come to you in confidence and transparency? They may wait to bring you important news.

If you say you have an open-door policy, but you simply aren’t ever in your office or make it impossible to schedule a meeting? They may make important decisions without consulting you.

 

“A leader that’s seen as volatile is often seen as less approachable.” – Lisa Beaty

 

Unless you are truly a terrible person, my guess is that you want to be more approachable. And I promise that trying to do so will provide dividends for both your team and yourself. It opens avenues of communication and personal growth.

 

“Peers can often be the best judge of your approachability.”  – Tammi Spayde

 

As always, my panel of leadership experts provides some great tips on how to get started. In this case, we begin with some thoughts on how to chip away at bad habits, breaking down barriers that might separate you from your team. Are you telegraphing unapproachability with your body language, eye contact or even the first few words you say during a conversation? Begin with some of these ideas from my guests, and then begin to work approachability into more complex areas of your leadership journey, including how you schedule your time and even think about office planning.

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“Being present is the key to approachability; and not overscheduling is one key to being present.”  – Skip Prichard

 

A good place to start, though, is to ask yourself this: when was the last time someone several spots below you on the org chart randomly took advantage of your “open door policy?” If it’s been more than a couple months, you could probably use an “approachability refresher,” and this week’s episode is as good a place to start as any.

 

Articles Referenced: Smart Brief article by executive coach Joel Garfinkle and article in Training Industry by coach and consultant Teri Klass.

 

 

 

Image Credit: Icons8 Team

 

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