Even if you’re the most knowledgeable talented, capable leader, if your employees don’t feel comfortable approaching you, you can’t get the most out of your team.
Being an approachable leader enables teams to feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and brings members closer together, to produce truly exceptional results.
Here are five ways to be a more approachable leader:
1. Share your mistakes.
No one is perfect, even leaders. Yet, leaders often make the mistake of hiding their failures, not letting their team see them sweat because they believe it indicates weakness.
On the contrary, mistakes make leaders more relatable, more human. In fact, even if you try to hide your failures, you’re probably not fooling anyone — fessing up is braver than pretending you’re invincible.
No one wants to talk about their mistakes with a leader who can’t admit to their own; set aside your ego to improve communication within your team.
2. Share the success.
Share the glory — no success is accomplished on the back of a single individual. Leaders who claim all the credit are typically the same ones who are entirely unapproachable.
Next time you’re in a pickle, the same ones you denied credit will be the last to rally around you. Give credit where credit is due and offer praise for a job well done.
3. Always err on the side of positivity.
The same reason plants grow toward the sun, people are drawn towards positivity — we are attracted to light and energy. No one wants to spend their time around Debbie Downers, constantly anticipating the worst case scenario.
As a leader, it’s especially important to motivate and inspire your team through optimism. Endeavor to change your own perspective in favor of a more positive one, then share that with your team.
4. Build a personal relationship.
The least approachable leaders are all business and no pleasure. Be willing to expand the horizons of your business relationship and get a bit personal. Learn about your employees’ families, hobbies, values and things that are important to them.
Taking a personal interest in your team breaks down barriers to create deeper connections between leadership and employees.
Letting your guard down as a leader can encourage your team to do the same.
5. Set an example.
If you want to be more approachable, make the first move. Invite your coworkers to lunch, plan an offsite event or simply start a non-work related conversation.
For larger businesses, it can be challenging to develop a personal relationship with each team member, but a simple hello in the hallway or recognition of good work can invite employees to feel more comfortable coming to you when a problem occurs.
Put yourself in your employee’s shoes or envision relationships you had with prior bosses to inform how you can make yourself more approachable.
Consider how you can make small changes to open lines of communication and get the most out of your team.