Never underestimate the importance of being approachable to effectively managing your organization. When you are approachable, people can relate to you. They understand what is needed for success and are willing to do what it takes to get the work done. When others believe you are open to hearing what they have to say, they will tell you the things you need to know.
Being approachable doesn’t mean that you have to stop what you’re doing whenever someone needs your attention. It does mean that when you give your attention, you give it fully. Here is what it looks like. You are:
Open to hearing about new and different ways of doing things. You know that the more minds and hearts that are supporting success, the better. You are willing to consider possibilities you hadn’t thought of before no matter who suggests them. You are open to criticism and able to take it in and consider the truth in what you hear.
Inclusive of all those who have a stake in the success of your organization. You make sure that everyone, even the quiet ones, are heard when big decisions are made that will involve them. You don’t hesitate to approach people, even those you don’t work with everyday, to get their input into your leadership and the direction of your organization.
Someone who listens carefully, quietly, and without judgement. You try to understand others’ viewpoints even when they are significantly different from your own. You know that the understanding you gain from listening deeply helps them, and it helps you to see points of view that are new and possibly key to your success.
Patient with others who may not respond as quickly as you would like. You know that you have a role to play in helping them to understand the direction to take in the work they do, and you remain patient while they learn. You are willing to give others some time to get to where they need to be, while gently guiding them there.
Present without distractions when others approach you. You physically turn to face them, look them in the eye, and stay focused on what they have to say. When you feel distracted by something, you recognize the negative impact that may have on your relationship, and you return to focusing on them. Your full attention, when needed, is freely given.
Thankful when people give you information you may not like hearing, but need to hear anyway. You let them know you are grateful for any information that might impact you, how you lead, and the success of your organization. When you thank them, you say it with meaning and heart.
Leaders who are approachable get things done because they create the kind of relationships that support them and the organization.
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a recovering corporate executive who has spent the past 12 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services, an executive consulting firm.