An effective leader is someone who is available and approachable by everyone. You want your employees to feel comfortable to come and talk to you, so you can keep communication channels open.
When we talk about accessibility, we are talking about the need to be loved and accepted by the people. Approachability is enabling other people to feel comfortable to bring good or bad news to them as well as listening to them.
A good leader should be visible and easy to approach with any fear, and leaders should be visible in the sense that they are plain, easy to speak and communicate with.
Most US corporations today are over managed and under led.
Doing what was done yesterday or doing 5% better is no longer (source: “What Leaders Really Do” by John P. Kotter).
Why being a visible and approachable leader is important
- It enables people to share their thoughts with you
To run a productive business, managers need to build a positive and supportive relationship with the employees. If you are a manager and spend all day on meetings and in your office, you don’t show respect to your people, and you miss the chance to listen to their opinions and problems they are facing to and even approaching you will be a problem to them.
However, if you manage to spend the time to understand the issues and problems first hand, you will see they become more open to sharing their thoughts and more proactive to identify improvement opportunities. They won’t just come and do their job, but also become part of improving the business and their processes. The only thing you have to be careful that the purpose is not to solve the problems for them, but help and guide them to learn to solve their problems on their level. To achieve this you as a manager has to be visible and approachable frequently to the employees that they can share and discuss their ideas with the managers to prioritize them and agree on the action plan.
- It enables leaders to understand challenges through their people
Probably it sounds obvious that a manager should manage the performance and the outcome of a team or business, but if they don’t spend time on the “shop floor” when the work happens they are getting distance from the reality and won’t be able to see the opportunities. So managers have to manage their people and the processes, but they can only understand the process challenges through their people.
- It makes people trust you
If you as a leader is visible and approachable, and you also keep information shared with you as a secret, people will earn their trust in you and can pass on any information to you.
- It enables you to determine your company’s weakness
Being approachable and visible will make your employees close to you, and they can share with you the weakness of your company as well as the strength. But people often see faults, so there is a big chance that your company will be criticised by not doing something right and you can correct the error from there.
So these are the importance of being visible and approachable as a leader and sometimes, you will like to see how much time you spend with your employees. In this case, start to track your typical workweek to see the time spent on different types of activities, such as internal and external meetings, reporting, administration, coaching and people development, etc. After a week of tracking you summarise the activities and you might be supposed how less time you were able to spend with your team. You can review the activities and try to think over what administrative, and reporting activities can be delegated to free up some time to be able to spend more time with the employees to be more approachable and available to help them to identify improvement opportunities.
Author: Noemi Szody