Have you ever worked for a boss who was always behind closed doors? It was hard to approach them with your challenges or ideas because you had to cross the barrier they set between you. Great leaders make themselves available to their team for the very purpose of learning what they have to offer.
Be Approachable and Venture Beyond the Confines of Your Office
If you’re not the extroverted, nurturing, approachable type, that’s absolutely acceptable — just understand that your personality could be perceived as “standoffishness,” so you must make an extra effort to connect with your peers, your teams and your superiors outside of the formal confines of meetings, according to Penny Locey, vice president at Keystone Associates, a career management consulting firm.
“As you’re trying to build alliances and gauge the power structure in your new position, remember that you must actively engage with your colleagues. Most employees want to be seen and noticed by executive staff, and something as simple as a brief, informal check-in with you can help build your image as an approachable and accessible leader while not diminishing your authority or power,” says Locey.
“If you are spending too much time in your office, make it part of your daily routine to be accessible, open and part of the team by being visible to employees – go to the lunch room, walk over to employee’s desk to have a conversation instead of sending an email, walk through the cubicles, and listen or make small talk,” says Locey.
Susan D. Gilster and Jennifer L. Dalessandro from Long Term Living talked about the importance of being a visible leader in their article Leaders Need to be Visible:
Effective leaders lead by example. By being visible, available, and caring, leaders can see and learn if employees need support or help. One of the most important lessons a leader or manager should know is the impact of supporting their employees in their work. In each and every department it is the role of the manager to care, train, and nurture their staff. And when in need it is the job of the department manager to step in and assist, not to leave the staff short, or in need. If a cook is ill and a replacement is needed, it is sometimes wise for the department manager to step in and cook rather than finding a replacement. It demonstrates what effective leaders do, and that is to never ask someone to do something that they are unwilling to do themselves. There is no other example that demonstrates commitment to their staff more than to show them that they, too, are willing to assist and do the work they expect of others. It can be the most valuable action that a manager or leader will ever learn.
Think about the most effective boss you have ever had; how visible were they to the team. Did you feel like you could approach them with a question or an idea? Did they actively seek your opinions or suggestions?
Being an effective leader in any industry is the difference between success or… and that is especially true in the traditionally male-dominated field of technology. As women in technology we need to ensure we are using our strengths of communication, empathy, collaboration and listening along with a commitment to our team. One of the best ways to do that is by being available.
Consider that the next time you are inclined to close you door; is it necessary or are you shutting yourself off from your team?
What traits do you believe are critical for women leaders?