In this series called Lead Differently I want to share with you ideas on leadership that may seem counter cultural. We live in a world that says you have to lead by position, authority or control… but I think that doesn’t have to be the case. That’s why I Lead Differently.
One of the ideas the world has tried to force into my leadership philosophy is that the Boss is removed from the organization. Every where you turn there are more stories about CEO’s, leaders and organization heads that think they are invincible to the standards of the world. It’s appalling to think that a good leader just stands around and does nothing. That’s where today’s Lead Differently concept begins: BE AVAILABLE.
The best leaders make themselves available to both teams and customers.
One of the things I ask potential candidates for roles on our team is how they learn. The two most common answers are: 1) “I’m a self learner who wont waste your time trying to learn something, but rather I’ll find the solution on my own” or 2) “If you walk me through the solution the first time, I’ll understand how to do it and be able to do it again and again.”
When you look at these two statements one is being honest with their desire to have a boss or a superior that makes themselves available and the other is buying into the world’s viewpoint where the boss is untouchable.
Here are just a few ways to be available when leading.
1. Physically Present.
If you’re in a leadership role where you have the ability to be regularly visible with your team members or followers, it’s crucial for them to know they have access to you. This could look like walking around an office space, hanging out in the public areas of a restaurant, doing your work in a place where your team doesn’t feel like their intruding your space.
By breaking down the barrier that you have a tucked away office on the other side of the building, you give your team the freedom to ask you for feedback, input and advice. You ultimately are allowing your team and your customers to have better access to getting their problems solved faster which will surely build a better organization.
2. Share Contact Information.
I got an email the other day from the CEO of a company I bought a product from. I’m sure it was an auto responder from their mail system, but it had his cell phone and email address in his signature. Odds are good I won’t be calling him on his cell phone, but he broke down the fear I may have had about being able to get in touch with someone if I needed to. Heck, I have the CEO’s cell phone now!
It also sets a precedence to your team that you have nothing to hid. That everyone plays on a team together and that the boss isn’t above anything… especially your customer service.
3. One on One.
If you’re leading a team, the best way to be available is to make sure there are times in your schedule where you get one-on-one time with each of your team members. This doesn’t have to be a scheduled meeting (I try my best to schedule them). But are you making sure that your team gets an opportunity to be around you without the rest of the team? This builds relationship, trust and gives them a sense of how you think and lead.
This is critical if you’re a parent or in a social setting. The best leaders in the room are the ones that make me feel like I’m the only one present.
4. Lead Through Learning.
The key to success for any business is the people who are on your team. When you make yourself available, you indirectly allow yourself to lead through learning. I am talking about your ability to train and equip your team. Your mere availability will cause your entire organization to continue to learn because you’ll be way more present to help teach those who are on your team.
In the process of being more available, your team will be able to learn about your key skills that can then be multiplied through the organization. Your passion will have a greater impact to filter throughout the team and change the DNA or effectiveness of your team.
Make yourself available. Don’t let there be members on your team that don’t know who you are. That’s a team that is headed down the path of letting the boss do whatever he/she wants to do. Being available has the heartbeat of a servant on the forefront of their mind and shows it to their team on a daily basis.
How could you become better at making yourself available?