How would you rate your approachability? As you think about your answer, consider the extent to which others would say that you have an “open door” policy.  Visibility and accessibility are components of approachability. People need to know that they can get to you when needed.  Transparency, another aspect of approachability builds trust and vulnerability creates an undeniable relatability which keeps the lines of communication open between you and those with whom you work. Leaders can sometimes lose sight of how their behavior can actually close their “open door.” Here are a few tips that can help keep the door open:

  • Be Present.  Always listen actively and do not allow yourself to be distracted by emails or phone calls during meetings and one-on-one conversations.
  • Participate in company sponsored programs and events. Volunteer to serve as a mentor, speak at ERG meetings, and internal talent development programs to increase your accessibility.
  • Be Transparent. People need to know that you will always be honest with them, even when the news is bad.  Most people would rather know and have an opportunity to prepare for the worse than deal with the stress of not knowing.
  • Be Vulnerable. During a recent conversation between a C-suite leader and one of his direct reports, the leader demonstrated a great deal of vulnerability when he asked, “Do you appreciate me as a leader?”  That took courage, and it raised the bar on what it means to be authentic and approachable