There’s no doubt about it, being in charge is a difficult position! Whether you’re a school principal, the CEO, or a day manager, leading employees is a delicate balance between ensuring respect and being relatable. If you’re too stern and “above” the employees, you’ll find it very challenging to create genuine relationships and understand what makes your employees tick. On the other hand, if you’re everyone’s pal then you lose authority and standing. So how can you be a strong leader and a friend at the same time?
First, help your employees feel comfortable with you. Remind them that you are human as well by sharing a few pieces of your personal life or confessing mistakes you’ve made in the past. As your employees begin to feel comfortable around you and accept that you won’t bite their heads off before lunch, you’ll earn a lasting respect.
Next, don’t keep secrets. We live in a country in which transparency is being demanded in every sector of business and government. Follow that example by remaining honest and open. No leader can do his job to the best of his ability if his employees doubt him.
Furthermore, don’t become stagnant. Your employees need to look up to you as a great figure in the business. If they see you continuing your own education through training courses, literature, and online webinars, then they will know your heart is really in the company and you want to do your best for everyone involved.
Lastly, don’t fly off the handle when a mistake is made or something goes wrong. The very best thing you can do to be approachable as a leader is to treat everything as a learning experience. If your employees know they can divulge a problem to you without risking their jobs or getting an earful, they are more likely to come to you, and you in turn can better understand the true situations unfolding in your company.
Being a leader is a unique and demanding position, and being approachable makes it all so much easier.