In the world of leadership, the expectations are high. Leaders are often seen as the cornerstones of their organizations, the ones who hold everything together, and the embodiment of unwavering strength. It can be overwhelming to say the least. However, it\’s important to remember that leaders are human beings too. They face their own challenges, doubts, and vulnerabilities. Balancing the personal side of leadership – that fine line between maintaining professionalism and being approachable – is a nuanced art that can greatly impact the success of both leaders and their teams.
Navigating the Human Side of Leadership
When the Superhuman Veil Falls: The Need for Balance
In the pursuit of excellence, leaders often find themselves treading the thin line between being superhuman and being real. While it\’s natural for employees to look up to their leaders, it\’s equally important for leaders to show their human side. Even if it is something that inherently feels unnatural to do. Striking this balance isn\’t easy, but it\’s essential for fostering a healthy organizational culture that values authenticity and open communication. To paraphrase, people leave people, not organizations so let’s address ways in which leaders can be perceived as approachable.
Maintaining Professionalism While Being Approachable
1. Active Listening:
Being an active listener demonstrates that you value your employees\’ opinions and concerns. (That means no looking at your phone or multitasking when having conversations with employees). When employees feel heard, they are more likely to open up about their own challenges and appreciate leaders who make an effort to understand their perspectives.
2. Open Door Policy:
Encourage an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable approaching you with their thoughts, questions, and even doubts. But before doing this, make sure that you have established clear rules of engagement because you will only have one opportunity for employees to take that step. Having an open door policy sends a clear message that you\’re there to support them and are willing to engage in meaningful conversations. (Again, no multitasking during conversations and maintain eye contact). Employees want to feel seen, valued, and heard.
3. Sharing Personal Stories:
Occasionally sharing personal stories or experiences can create a sense of relatability between leaders and employees. It doesn’t have to be something massively significant. However, it helps break down the barriers and humanizes leaders, making them more approachable. (Did you hear that? Sharing personal stories humanizes you to your team and staff.)
4. Vulnerability and Authenticity:
Embrace vulnerability. It\’s okay to admit when things are tough or when you\’ve made a mistake. Because we’ve all been there and done/experienced that. Showing vulnerability not only makes you relatable but also encourages a culture where it\’s acceptable to be open about challenges. And is demonstrates inner strength and resiliency.
5. Encouraging Feedback:
Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable providing constructive feedback. This not only improves communication but also shows that you value their input and are open to growth. Remember, feedback is a gift. It’s better to know than not know.
The Power of Vulnerability
Statistics on the Benefits of a Vulnerable Leader
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, leaders who exhibit vulnerability are more likely to gain the trust and loyalty of their teams. In fact, the majority of employees surveyed said that a vulnerable leader is more effective in their role. Additionally, a Gallup study found that employees who feel comfortable discussing their weaknesses and fears with their leaders are more engaged and productive.
Unlock Your Leadership Potential
In the journey of leadership, finding the equilibrium between being a pillar of professionalism and an approachable human is pivotal. By embracing vulnerability and showing your authentic self, you not only connect with your team on a deeper level but also set a tone for a supportive and open workplace culture.
At American Management and Leadership by Design, we understand the challenges that leaders face in balancing these aspects of their roles. Our executive coaching and organizational training programs are designed to equip you with the skills and insights to navigate this delicate balance successfully. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you become the leader who not only drives results but also fosters a thriving, human-centric environment.
Remember, leadership is not about being flawless; it\’s about being human and leading with empathy.
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