How to: Stay approachable while climbing the ladder. How approachable are you as a manager?
By Lizette Volkwyn, Master Life Coach, Published Author and Human Lie Detector
Many people think they are approachable, but only a few really are. We are aware of our own positive thoughts and hope that they are visible to everyone. We believe we are approachable when, in truth, many of us come off as remote and reserved without even understanding it.
There may be a time when you idolize people for the successes they have achieved, put them on pedestals just to realize they are human just like me and you with their own unique traits and values, and it will not always align with yours.
The importance of approachability cannot be over exaggerated. To put people at ease allows them to think and perform at their best in your presence.
It's a necessary technical competence that becomes more valuable when you advance up the corporate ladder and is demanded of managers by their teams.
It is normal to think: “I have worked hard to get where I wanted to be”, “everybody want to use me for a quick stepping stone”, “I don’t want to share my life with everyone” or “as Senior Exec, I have the authority to make decisions they need to follow the rules”...BUT, it is vital to remember that your current audience or employees were not part of the rejection, hard work and efforts you had to do to get you where you are today.
So how do you stay approachable and sincere as you climb the ladder?
There is a difference between boundaries and shutting people out
Boundaries are important for maintaining your privacy and personal space. It is not acceptable to keep people out of your office, close the door, and ignore calls.
It's obnoxious, rude, and arrogant.
Set up a device that helps you to have an open line of contact, whether you address it directly or via a personal assistant.
Every day from 20h00 to 6h00, I have learnt to switch my phone on mute. This is a boundary, but I've made it known to anyone I encounter.
It is only a title
It is very easy to adopt the new infamous title and lose yourself in the process. You find that you are absorbed by the new title which makes you neglect that you are still a vulnerable human-being and it is okay to showcase it to the people around us. People are a lot more forgiving when you acknowledge to being vulnerable than when you closed and demanding.
One of my clients nearly lost everything. He was so focussed on his ‘new-found fame’ and convinced himself that he is worthless if he cannot perform on stage. The truth be told, his title is only a fraction of who he really is.
Pretending to be sincere does not cut it -- your subconscious will reflect the truth. Be sincere and mean it; whether you are overworked, fully booked or if it is just not what you want to focus on right now, always stay consistent in your communication.
One of my clients walked into my office close to having a breakdown. She just could not keep everyone happy anymore. Since her promotion, everyone demanded her time and efforts, and she wanted to prove she is up to it. She became grumpy and frustrated instead of being sincere and showcase her real emotions. Once she started to show her real feelings and asked for help, she became respected, popular and approachable.
Be kind to yourself
Humanity is not being vulnerable. Being human is to show real interest in others and the people that work with you. Understanding and an emphasis on how you make people feel is what humanity is all about.
Always remember that people do not remember what you did for them, but rather how you made them feel. Many celebrities, Senior Execs and experts have lost their respect and value just because they made people feel inferior.
Recently, one of our actresses showed her vulnerability. The empathy of all her followers flooded Instagram. Why? Because she showed humanity. People see past the fakeness.
You have worked hard to be successful; a lot of sacrifices has been made. People do not see it, they (only) see the tip of the iceberg that you are successful. They don’t see the hurt along the way, the challenges you have overcome or the disappointments you had to face. You cannot expect them to understand, but when they reach out to you, teach and guide them and build a following who can vouch for you when you are not available.
At the end of the day, we all are human and the greatest blessing we can hope for is to be kind and approachable, regardless of being a celebrity, your profession or achievement.