Do You Want To Be An Approachable Leader?


One of the most common concerns I hear from leaders at all levels is being “left out of the loop.” We think we have a strong connection to our colleagues and teams, yet we sometimes miss out on information being shared. We may not be told that someone is really unhappy with his or her job or that another person just received a huge honor in his or her volunteer position. Then one day we are with a group of co-workers and realize that others have opened up to each other and not to us. We may even become upset or feel “slighted”.  Instead of wondering why we have been left out, we might reframe our thinking by asking: How have I contributed to being on the outside of the circle? Am I an approachable person and leader?

Here are some ways that may help in becoming more approachable:

 Be interested in others

When people have a sense that we care about what they are doing, they are more likely to share their world with us. Although this may not come naturally to all leaders, we need to develop empathy for others. We may even need to reprogram our thinking to include being curious about what other people are focusing on and what is important to them. We can also grow our leadership knowledge by exploring what other leaders are doing and feeling.


Ask questions to create rapport

One of the best and easiest ways to learn about what is important to others and what is happening in their lives is to ask questions. People love to tell us what they are involved with and what they care about. The key is to be sincere in our approach and tone. I have a friend who never asks me questions about myself, yet I always ask her. Once I approached her and asked why she didn’t and her response was that she felt that it was prying. I asked if she felt I was prying when I asked her questions and she said emphatically-“no”. So I told her I would welcome questions so I too could share.



Share part of yourself

When we are approachable, we are able to share our thoughts and hearts with people. We are authentic and genuinely show concern for others by listening attentively and offer meaningful personal and professional stories. We are not afraid to be open or share our insights into lessons we have learned along the way. Just keep in mind that each person discovers different teachings depending on their perspective.


Are you an approachable leader? How do you show others that you are available to them and care?

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13 thoughts on “Do You Want To Be An Approachable Leader?

  1. One thing that I always tried to do was to get out from behind my desk and out of my office to meet people on their ground, not only mine. At one point I thought an open door meant “hey! I’m approachable!” but that’s not enough. We need to show people we’re human for them to feel our humanity. Love your suggestions here, Terri – all spot on!

  2. Terri, Great suggestions. Good listeners are what makes leaders the most approachable. Good listeners will make others feel heard, because they are. Good listeners may not always agree, but they always understand and maintain positive relationships. Being approachable means being a good listener. Great points here. Thank you! Jon

  3. Connecting with people on their turf is always an approachable way to share ideas and feedback. I find that when we take the time to ask about their lives and what they are focused on can be a supportive way to begin building trust.

    Thanks Alli!

  4. So true Jon, that being a strategic and caring listener can really help leaders be more approachable and learn about what is happening. With busy and rushed schedules, we sometimes don’t spare the time to really listen.

    Great point Jon and thanks for your comments! Terri

  5. Being an approachable leader is showing up with heart.
    It shows you care, you are interested, and you want to be included.

    Being an approachable leader is being a leader who is reachable.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. I agree, Lolly, that when we are approachable our hearts guide our conversations and actions.

    When we are approachable we build genuine and meaningful relationships.

    We just need to commit to being approachable and nurturing and then we will always feel in the loop.

    Thanks Lolly!

  7. I do think that approachable leaders are able to care for others in a meaningful way. Then, those leaders will feel more connected and get a better read on what to focus on.

    Thanks Scott for your support and great additions!

  8. Love this post, Terri! Approachable leaders are those care for others and understand the importance of relationships.

    Deep relationships can sustain us through turmoil and uncertainty, issues that arise in all work environments.

    I can see where you would be an awesome coach!

  9. You are right on the mark, LaRae with the key concept for approachable leaders-build meaningful relationships!

    I believe that if a leader has cultivated trusting relationships they are always “in the loop” with conversations and information flow.And yes, during challenging times, approachable leaders can endure the rumors that circulate without worry that they have in any way a less than trusting team.

    Thanks LaRae for your amazing support and terrific additions!

  10. I am so glad the post resonated with you, Kimunya!

    Authenticity empowers leaders to build genuine and caring relationships which in turn helps them to be more approachable.

    I so appreciate you stopping by and adding your wonderful comments!

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