Leadership is about influence, influence requires trust. The path to trust is full of many components. Effective leadership requires a concentrated effort to build and retain the trust of your followers. One of the first steps is being accessible to your followers. This allows them to learn who you are, come to you with problems, and give you the opportunity to engage in development opportunities.
What does being accessible mean? How do you define it? Dictionary.com defines accessibility as “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use”. As a leader, it is important that you are approachable, easy to communicate with, and available for your team members. Leaders that claim to have an “open door policy”, yet are either not available or make conversations difficult are not being accessible.
When Accessibility Goes Wrong
I remember working for a boss who always said he had an open door policy. During my tenure at this organization, I could always find him in his office, but he was not easy to approach or talk with. He rarely provided valuable conversations to team members and often had the “because I said so” mentality.
How are you being accessible to your followers? Are you managing by walking around? Do you engage your followers with questions to see how things are going? Have you spent enough time with people that they are comfortable coming to you with both good and bad news?
If you answered no to any of the questions, I strongly encourage you to try doing just one thing week. When leaders isolate themselves from the “troops” in the trenches, they often lose touch with the day to day operations. Having require contact can help you forecast issues that may be coming down the road and plane a detour.
How Accessibility Can Save You
A friend of mine was recently traveling through the midwest of the US. On his journey he was hitting several national parks including Mount Rushmore and Yosemite. Thanks to the accessibility of information on the internet, he knew it was possible that the park would be evacuated due to wildfires. Planning several weeks out, he was able to book a room at a hotel as a Plan B.
When the order came to evacuate the park, he and his wife exited the park and proceeded to the hotel where his reservations were waiting. Although the price was higher than normal for the hotel chain, he was one of the lucky few that secured a room that night when the hotel became booked due to the influx in tourists. Thanks to the accessible information he found, he was able to implement Plan B without worries and for far less than those who found a room that day.
If you make it a point to be accessible, people will communicate with you. This communication can provide valuable information that can save you in the long run. If you are in manufacturing and your factory workers see an issue now, mid management may try to squash the bad news from reaching you. Finding out about a potential problem can save your company embarrassment and money. Be accessible!
Accessibility Has Limitations
There is a line with accessibility. It is possible for leaders to be too accessible. Sometimes people mistake leadership as friendship and may cross some lines. Additionally, social media has allowed a 24/7 tether that we are still adjusting to. Most importantly, to get more done, limit your interruptions as much as possible. The fine line is unique to each leader and environment and will require intentional trial and error to balance out.
Accessibility ties into trust by being one of the core requirements for Intent. Having transparency and caring for others form the foundation that Intent rests on. I’m going to talk about the remaining core of Intent and the entire foundation that trust is built on through this blog series on Trust.
Question: What are you going to do this week to be more accessible? You can leave a comment by clicking here.