Good Habits #34: Be Approachable

By | June 22, 2017

[June 22, 2017]  Effective leaders make a habit out of those things that work; that sustain them in times when things are tough.  Leaders, therefore, must use their skills at persuasion to enforce standards of excellence.  The only way to do this is to be approachable where people are not afraid to come to you and voice their concerns, issues, and opinions.

One of my commanders once told me to never bring him bad news.  I was a junior officer and thought to myself at the time that perhaps I had done something wrong; in the future I simply didn’t bring him any news at all.  Also, I didn’t feel the need to help him make the unit better.  Later as I looked back my time there, I considered it a near failure.  This is what an approachable leader does not do.

A team environment where folks are fearful to speak up and ask questions (even “dumb” questions) is one that is destined for failure.  Authentic leaders make it known they welcome criticism and challenges to their way of doing business and are genuinely open to other viewpoints regardless of perceived value.

Leaders know that only through those around them can missions or tasks be completed.  By ensuring they are approachable, leaders create an atmosphere where thoughts, ideas, and discussions can flow throughout their team and organization.  This is done first by making it known that undue criticism is unacceptable.  It is also done by taking the steps to reward those with the courage to step up and make their thoughts known.

Approachable does not mean the need to be liked or popular.  It also means not being a pushover.  This leads to weak leadership.  Approachable means that folks can be assured they will be heard and given fair consideration.  Some simple tools help; smile, don’t react negatively, thank them, avoid overreacting (either positive or negative), and be consistent in any reaction.

An approachable leader will see the morale of their team and organization increase when seen as an authentic person who cares enough about members to treat them with respect and consideration.  Cooperation will improve within and a more positive attitude will prevail.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.