In this article, you will discuss strategies to Foster a positive and productive work environment by cultivating an approachable leadership style.
Unlike management, which is a highly structured discipline, leadership is an art by itself, open to various interpretations, and its style of practice varies from individual to individual. Management is all about strategy and execution, managing day-to-day business activities, daily firefighting, delegating tasks, and ensuring performance for creating short-term results.
Conversely, leadership is all about developing potential, be it people, projects or processes, and also about setting a strategic direction that helps fulfil the company’s vision. Leadership is strategic in the sense of helping find ways to improve and develop people’s potential and has a long-term impact on the performance of an organisation.
Most commonly, the evolution of leadership in the careers of corporate managers occurs with the growth of their technical skills and the meaningful gaining of challenging work experiences, with the key focus being on fine-tuning strategy and performance of job responsibilities and tasks with more and more precision.
Often, managers are so determined to meet performance expectations that in pursuit of management excellence, they tend to underdevelop the critical part of leadership: leading the people.
As much for leaders to be influential and impactful, excellence in technical aspects of their jobs is essential; the bare fact is that successful leadership depends on the ability of leaders to interact successfully with others and build meaningful and effective connections at work.
For this, leaders need to be highly efficient in managing relationships, collaborating with others, and motivating others, and that begins with the leader being approachable.
Knowledge, honour, trustworthiness, and loyalty are just a few of the attributes that define a strong and well-respected leader, but regardless of what strengths a leader may have, lack of the ability to connect with the employees, i.e. not being approachable, will only make
the leader, misses valuable opportunities to deliver a successful performance. Working towards being approachable helps leaders open channels for navigating their strategic moves successfully, as it helps create a culture of openness and innovation by enabling team members to feel empowered enough to risk venturing outside of their comfort zones safely and responsibly.
Here are a few of the ways to initiate the journey towards being an approachable leader:
Self-awareness is one of the essential ways to start working towards being approachable.
Understanding why others look towards leaders for help is an excellent way to improve self-awareness, identify strengths and weaknesses, use the inherent powers to reach out and develop talent, and proactively work on the disadvantages to help improve the organisational culture.
In day-to-day work situations, when it comes to connecting with all types of people, listening to people without interrupting and judging is essential to fostering positive and harmonious relations.
Non-verbal cues like good eye contact, welcoming facial expressions, and positive body language also help to propagate an approachable personality.
One critical deciding factor in the making and breaking of workplace relationships is how one communicates when connecting with others.
While communicating, an approachable leader is apparent and precise in his choice of words, the tone of his voice, body language, and hand gestures; he speaks with sincerity, gives honest feedback, and is quick to respond to the needs of his followers.
One of the essential traits of an approachable leader is the ability to demonstrate that they care for their people and find the time to talk through the challenges and accomplishments while creating the necessary workplace boundaries. And this can only be achieved by having a highly efficient time management regime.
Being approachable is about interacting with people without preconceived notions or prejudices.
For leaders to win their people’s trust and be seen as just and fair, they must be aware of and acknowledge any bias they may hold against people and work towards correcting their approach before they hear another person or share their concerns.
One of the major elements of being an approachable leader is building rapport and connection with team members and colleagues, and this is achieved when a leader is willing to share his mistakes, talk about wrong decisions and the lessons learned thereof, show that in the end we are all humans and, it is our humanity that makes us approachable leaders.
The hallmark of an approachable leader is reliability and consistency.
The easiest way to demonstrate approachability is by sharing stories of your past success, how you dealt with workplace challenges, and how you came to decisions under critical conditions.
Such shared experience helps people understand their leader’s mindset and know what to expect from them as a leader.
Embracing compassion, showing empathy, listening to your people with an open mind, asking lots of questions, not working on assumptions and not jumping to conclusions are more ways to demonstrate approachability.
The ultimate trait of being an approachable leader is balancing managing your tasks, leading your people, and
letting your strengths be your support and guide in a leadership capacity. A leader can be a task-focused one who nurtures good relationships to get tasks done or a relationship-focused leader who gets projects to the targeted outcome; in either case, awareness of oneself helps adapt the leadership style to the situation’s needs and the people.
Facial expressions give away a person’s emotional state; generally, people would hesitate to approach leaders who appear rude or have a scowl. An approachable leader always wears a simple smile, which goes a long way in making leaders seem more approachable and friendly.
Approachable leaders are always polite, respond professionally and courteously even when they disagree and never resort to sarcasm, for they understand that people want to be given a patient hearing and be appreciated and using sarcasm will only create barriers to being approachable.
People expect their leaders to be level-headed and not overreact—especially to bad news. Inability to conduct oneself in a positive manner in challenging situations or overreacting can put people on the edge and can become a deterrent to being approacgable.
For a leader, telling people what they do not want to hear is sort of an acid test, but being approachable means being credible, honest, fair and sharing honest feedback no matter what the situation or whoever the person.
Failure is a teacher and a part of the leadership evolution process. A leaders ability to share failures goes a long way in projecting him as being approachable.
Related Article: What is Leadership Coaching and How is it Beneficial?
Approachability is just not another leadership trait that makes one a likeable person; it is a critical factor in leadership that helps create a culture of open communication within the organisation, thereby improving morale, fostering collaboration, and increasing productivity.
Communication skills are, therefore, a very critical part of the skills set of an approachable leader as it:
To be approachable, leaders can improve their communication skills;
Leadership is about developing an organisation’s broad potential by setting a direction and helping others see and achieve the vision. A leader, then, is anyone in a group, team, department, or enterprise who can perform one or more critical leadership functions and uses a particular leadership style to discharge his role and responsibilities.
When it comes to being approachable, one of the leadership styles that nurtures approachability is “Open Leadership”, simply because open leaders help build an open working culture that fosters a positive environment where people are enabled and motivated to give their very best under all circumstances and where people;
The foundation of open leadership is based on the following notion where leaders believe that;
Approachability is a much sought-after professional skill that fosters numerous career benefits, from networking and career advancement to information access and other advantages.
In leadership, approachability is about fostering bonds and cultivating an environment that lets people feel comfortable at the workplace, regardless of whether that’s putting forward their ideas or voicing their concerns.
If, as a leader, you are seen as being unapproachable, then it’s likely that you may miss out on access to timely information, lose personal and professional credibility and ultimately be seen as the kind of professional not famous with his people.
Successful leaders excel at drawing people to them rather than imposing on them. As much as iron-fisted leadership may command respect, it may fail to make deep connections with the employees, retain talent, build lasting relationships, and foster a working environment where people deliver in harsh and challenging conditions.
By its very nature, a leader’s status tends to act as a deterrent to open and free communication. Being approachable helps develop a good rapport with people, helps keep the lines of communication open and breaks down the barriers to effective communication. Being approachable helps increase the
the trust of the team members puts people at ease in your presence and helps nurture solid professional networks.
An approachable leader can get the most out of his people. With ease, he can identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees and use these learnings to put his people in positions to succeed, thereby paving the way for a better work environment and happy and contented employees.
The more approachable a leader is, the more confident his team and the more trust in leadership, which is all needed for a successful organisation.