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How to Become a More Approachable Leader
For leaders to learn and understand what is really going on with the people they lead, they have to encourage others to share information with them. In the traditional view, being an approachable leader translates more accurately as being easy to talk to and creating an aura that is warm and open. When team members feel they are always welcome to discuss, engage, and share with a leader, we can say that leader is approachable.
Becoming a more approachable leader is about more than listening to others and maintaining an open door. It is most about refraining from giving answers and advice too quickly.
Here’s a relatively unknown formula that is essential for approachable leadership: Q + A x X = < Q. Translated, this means questions followed by answers in repetition results in fewer questions. This is not an easy formula for many leaders to accept. After all, when approached with a question, how can there be a better response than a good answer?
As experienced and successful experts, leaders are a source of wisdom and insight. Initially, team members who know the leader is open to questions will engage the leader with a handful of inquiries they would like to explore. The key word is explore. Approachable leaders love to dive in and engage.
When facile leaders are quick with smart answers, team members feel instructed but not engaged. After this pattern continues, team members become less interested in raising their questions. Unbeknownst to many leaders, colleagues only occasionally ask questions to receive an answer. Instead, they ask questions to gain perspective and insight, while also offering their own spin.
Approachable leaders see questions in a different light. They encourage them and other information by exploring the issues rather than providing the answer. Clarifying, probing, questioning, and elucidating on any topic brought to them is how the best leaders make themselves more approachable. Stated succinctly, when others feel they can engage, they approach.