Once you take that step into leadership, you accept the responsibility that other people will now depend on you. You have knowledge and experiences that people can learn from, and they will come to you at their most vulnerable times in need of your expertise. Unless, of course, you are one of those members of management that people avoid because their perception of you is that you are unapproachable.
“Perception is reality, ” they say.
Picture this: It is just another day at the office. You are slammed. You have emails to create and other emails to reply to. You have reports to run and results to trend. Your phone is ringing and associates are coming to your desk with questions. Your boss wants to know your ideas on how you are going to improve a certain metric and how you are going to strategically implement said ideas. You are being pulled in 8 different directions… but you can’t let that affect the way you treat people. Below are some simple ways to appear more approachable, even when you feel super busy:
- Stop what you are doing. When someone walks up to your desk, take your hands off your keyboard and mouse. That email can wait. Turn your body to them and make eye contact so that they know you are paying attention to them.
- Smile :). Greeting them with a smile shows them that you are kind and that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
- Be patient. Let them finish their thoughts. Don’t feel so rushed to immediately answer their question. Allowing them time to finish before you begin speaking shows them that what they have to say is important to you.
- Teach. Teach them where to locate the information they need so they will know how to utilize available resources to help them solve problems in the future. Have them walk you through their thought process to check for understanding.
- Follow up. Later on that day or the next day ask them how the situation turned out. This builds trust because that person will know that you cared enough to make sure their issue was resolved. When someone trusts that you have their best interest at heart, they will know you are someone they can count on.
- Get to know people. Learn people’s names and listen to their stories. Share a personal story about yourself every once in awhile so people can get to know your personality.
- Speak. Make eye contact and say “hello” to people in the hallway. Tell them “good morning” or ask them how they are doing. People are more likely to feel comfortable coming to you if you have taken the time to talk to them before.
Even if you are having a bad day or you just don’t feel well, remember that every interaction you have with someone is a chance to build their perception of you. Treat everyone with respect at all times, and be aware of your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Make a conscious effort to be the type of leader that associates want to follow and learn from. Be positive and supportive so that they feel empowered to treat others the same way. At every level of the organization we need others. You did not get to where you are today all by yourself. Share your knowledge and make it fun!