Have you ever thought if it wasn’t for all these people you have to work with, you might actually get some work done? Or what about this one, I’d love my job if it weren’t for the people at my job? Well, as we all know, work can’t get done without people, so it behooves us to be a more approachable, social leader. If we’re not intentional about being a social and approachable leader it has the potential to effect our bottom line.
Need & Reasons for a Social and Approachable Leader:
It’s imperative as leaders that we connect with our direct reports, this will allow us to motivate them the way that is necessary so in turn we will be able to cast the vision to them in a language they will understand. The biggest problem sometimes is that we cast vision but we don’t know how to speak the language they are speaking.
There are a number of simple things we can do to become more social and approachable.
For me, this was a learned behavior. I didn’t realize the negative effect I was have having on people until someone pointed it out. Once I started doing it (and it hurt), it had amazing results. No, you don’t have to have to be wearing a dumb grin all the time – just do it when you greet someone or pass them in the hallway.
Interesting cultural note: In Rome, Italians do not smile at strangers. It took me a couple days to catch on to this, they must have thought I was some nut-case.
Share more about yourself. I’m not talking about sharing your thoughts around your latest theory on leadership – I mean personal information. Doing so helps build trust and relationships – it’s a bonding ritual. Caution – don’t overdo it initially – you’ll freak people out. Start with sharing some vacation pictures, or a story about your kids, or your dog, etc… Work your way up to it, and people will then start sharing information in return.
Increase your daily, weekly, and monthly interactions
Make sure you’re talking (not emailing) to a couple people each day, I know it’s so easy to get locked in our office but we need to fight against this impulse. The next time you’re tempted to send that email to the person who works around the corner from you, get up and go talk to them. Or, pick up the phone and call, also keep your door open.
Have coffee or lunch with at least one person a month just to network, inside or outside of work. Remember to smile at least once. (-: ouch.
Have regular one-on-ones and team meetings
In your one on ones, build in a little time up front for casual conversation. It helps to break the ice and build rapport. In addition to these regular, planned interactions, schedule informal lunch hours and an occasional off-site meeting. If you can, host a meeting at your home.
Improve your presentation skills
Presentation skills are a learned skill – we can all get better with instruction and hard work. Quality presentation skills are a MUST for any leader, so they can convey the vision one-on-one and in a corporate environment.
Improve your listening skills
Reserved leaders may come across as uninterested, or not listening, because they don’t show a lot of emotion or provide many visual cues. Practice nodding your head, making eye contact, sit up straight, ask questions, and check for understanding. Checking for understanding is especially important for someone who doesn’t always “read between the lines” very well, or pick up on emotions or feelings. After a meeting, check with others to see if they had the same understanding that you did.
You must be a social and approvable if you want to go where you where you want to go…
Improving your approachability and sociability is going to take time. This blog post is just meant to get someone started. There’s plenty of comprehensive help out there.
When it comes to personalities, we all have our natural preferences. There’s no cookie-cutter mold that we need to turn into to become effective leaders. “Strong, silent type” leaders can be just as effective as charismatic leaders. However, it’s important not to use “that’s just the way I am” as an excuse for not addressing behaviors that are limiting your leadership.