The more approachable you are the more trust you will gain among your employees and colleagues. Everyone wants to work with people they trust and feel comfortable around. That comfort level comes from openness and honesty. Are you open with your team and colleagues?
To find out if the people you work with view you as approachable, just ask them. Ask your employees if they feel comfortable coming to you with concerns and issues. Ask your colleagues if they feel comfortable confiding in you. Find out from your superiors if they view you as approachable. Constantly monitor your openness.
One way to exhibit openness is to ask for feedback—and take it to heart. If you don’t already have a system for this, develop one. Make sure your team members know that you can handle constructive criticism—and you want it. Then use this feedback for your own constant improvement—the same constant improvement you demand from them. If you find that you are not receiving feedback on ways to improve your leadership style or business processes, conduct an anonymous survey aimed at finding out the real picture. If this elicits the constructive criticism that no one would give you before, look closely at your leadership style. Ask yourself, what am I projecting that makes people feel that they cannot be open and honest with me?
A Watson Wyatt Work USA survey found that companies with high integrity—measured by employee assessments of senior management’s consistency, communications, and other trust-determining behaviors—generate financial returns that are twice those of companies with low integrity levels (from HR Magazine – Do They Trust You? by Eric Krell)
The same study found that 72 percent of employees believe their immediate bosses act with honesty and integrity in their business activities, but only 56 percent believe that about top management (Krell, 2006).
Being more open and approachable is a valuable and admirable aspiration, and it helps build trust. But one word of caution: don’t lose your leadership perspective. Stay upright and focused on the organization’s goals. You must balance the interests of employees, customers, and shareholders if you want to succeed as a leader.
By Ken Wright – contact me at Ken@Engage4Results.com to find out how you can become more approachable and improve your leadership style.