How do you become an approachable team leader?
This is my take on a question asked on a leadership Q&A page.
When thinking about an approachable leader, one might hear:
“My door is always open!”
In reality, a leader is approachable because of a series of traits and conducts.
The very first thing that will make you approachable is to be predictable. People will feel safe coming to you if they know what to expect. They somehow know how you will react to the news, good or bad. So be consistent.
I opened this article with the cliché open door policy. If you want to be an approachable leader, you must do the opposite of waiting in your office for people to show up. Instead, you need to go and meet people where they are and create opportunities for them to talk to you.
Some leaders schedule a regular, one-on-one 15-minute chat with their teammates. Others leverage the organization's gatherings to meet and talk to as many people as possibly.
They either initiate the conversation, create the conditions for it to happen, or leverage opportunities.
Plus, allowing people to interrupt you at any time puts you at risk for a moody or inconsistent reaction. And the whole point of being approachable is that people will come to you if they need you. The door opened or closed.
Finally, approachable leaders aren't afraid to appear vulnerable. When you work close to people, they will sometimes share an anecdote with you and instantly regret it. Being able to respond with one of your own stories will strengthen the relationship.
Ultimately, to be an approachable leader, try and be an approachable person. Use informal conversations to build rapport.
Be good, compassionate, open, and respectful, and people will start portraying you as accessible.
The mere fact that you are wondering how to be approachable tells me that you are already on the right path.