As a leader, you might think being accessible is the same as being available. While these words have similar definitions in the dictionary, they don't mean the same thing when it comes to leadership. You can have an open-door policy and believe you're making yourself accessible, but if you're never there for your team members or colleagues, you're not truly available.
To be an effective leader, you must demonstrate accessibility and availability. Scott Eblin, an executive coach and leadership educator, says that when he's doing colleague feedback interviews for an executive coaching client, he'll sometimes hear that person described as accessible. Other times, a colleague will describe the leader as available. On rare occasions, he says he'll hear that the executive is both accessible and available.
According to Eblin, demonstrating both accessibility and availability is what all leaders should strive to achieve. It begins with understanding that there's a big difference between being accessible and being available. Rather than aiming to be one over the other, Eblin says it's wise to incorporate best practices from both.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Eblin's thoughts on how leaders can be both accessible and available.
Being accessible is mainly a function of personality. According to Eblin, accessible leaders:
Put people at ease.
Encourage open and honest conversation.
Provide coaching and guidance.
Don't stand on title or hierarchy.
Being available is mainly a function of time management. Eblin says that available leaders:
Put team members and colleagues on their list of priorities.
Leave time in their weekly calendar for unscheduled conversations.
Make clear to others how and when they can be reached.
Keep their meeting commitments except in case of true emergencies. (This is especially true for regularly scheduled
team meetings or team one-on-ones.)
Make good use of technology – particularly video conferencing – to be available virtually when they can't be physically.
Leaders should aim to operate keeping these best-of lists of accessibility and availability in mind. Both the leader and their team learn more, develop faster and have higher levels of engagement and performance. At the end of the day, being a great leader is often more about your soft skills than the hard skills you possess. When you work to make yourself available and accessible to your team, you help propel your team and your organization forward.
Take a good look at how you lead your team. Can you truthfully say you're accessible and available? If not, consider moving the needle in a more positive direction by taking guidance from the points above.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Scott Eblin is an executive coach and leadership educator. He's the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative and the co-founder and president of the Eblin Group.
Used with permission from PPAI and PC Today.