Approachability requires upkeep. In Episode 2, we're digging into why approachability is so important, how it can lead to extraordinary results, and what you can do to start being more approachable this week.
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Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to help you take the leap, conquer your week, and achieve your goals. If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective and spark your momentum – you’re in the right place.
Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller. Thanks for joining me for another Ignition Point – the show where we feature a reimagined motivational address or an exclusive Guest Keynote and share a rundown of three ways you can elevate your potential and feel empowered all week long.
Hopefully the advice we shared last time pushed you out of your comfort zone and helped you get your weekly win. I’d like to give a quick shout out to all of you who sent feedback, subscribed and reviewed the show on Apple Podcasts. I’m blown away by your kindness and I’m so grateful for your support. Every bit of input helps to make Ignition Point a more uplifting experience.
When I was in college, I spent a semester learning all about organizational behavior. I was one of the students who came for the course credits but stayed for the Personality Type Test. Turns out, this didn’t reveal my calling, but one thing I’ll never forget was learning about why some of the top brands intentionally segregated their leaders from those they served. This blew my mind!
Can you imagine trying to run an idea up the flagpole and having to just wonder if anyone will ever get back to you? That’s like playing a choose your own adventure game like The Oregon Trail. You’re optimistic that there’s a safe path to the happy ending, but surprise! All the roads lead to you dying of exhaustion or dysentery. I think I’ll pass.
But over the last decade, leadership philosophies have begun to shift thanks to influencers like Sheryl Sandberg and Howard Schultz who advocate for vertical accessibility. That’s why on today’s episode, I’m excited to talk about how being approachable can lead to extraordinary results. So if you’ve got a reputation for power tripping or you’ve got a bad case of RBF – this is your wakeup call. Let’s get after it!
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE
What qualifies someone as a Great Leader? Their Charisma? Tenacity? A Vision?
If these traits came to mind, you’re not wrong. These qualities contribute to the way leaders carry themselves. They help to make the hard decisions. But there’s something specific which sets the great leaders apart from the good leaders.
Regardless of how you are thrust into Leadership, you must be approachable. Some of the most admired organizations still have a reputation for separating their Leaders from the people they lead, creating what is called high power distance. These conditions spread intimidation and exclusion.
Over time, you may have to work with folks who fear authority, but how approachable you are is determined by just one person - YOU.
Approachability is all about blending intentional listening with appropriate communication. Approachable Leaders make it easy for others to talk to them, demonstrating patience and building trust. You’re lucky if you know a leader who embodies these traits, but put your admiration on the backburner. Recognize that you can be more like them if you know where to start.
I’ve found that becoming innately approachable requires you to begin with authenticity.
When Great Leaders take center stage, they call upon a broad set of skills, but no tool is more persuasive or influential than a personal story. For some, this is probably a tough pill to swallow. Higher Education has taught emerging leaders to turn to statistics and industry news to persuade colleagues. Data is great for establishing credibility, but not for fostering authenticity.
Try sharing a personal story about setback and how you overcame it. Speak to how it shaped your values and made you who you are today. This will illustrate your humility and that you have the courage to own your weirdness. If you are willing to experiment with your messaging and get it wrong a few times along the way, you’ll find your voice sooner than you think.
But be careful to not shift the focus so far to authenticity that you forget to properly communicate your vision. After all, when you position yourself as a leader, your ability to remain the leader hinges on others believing in you.
So be real. When you balance authenticity with a clearly communicated vision and a demonstration of the value you contribute, you reach the gateway to approachability. You can now set effective expectations.
Depending on how you grew up, you may be a bit triggered by this concept. Don’t overthink it. Expectations are required for society to function. Consider a situation where you hop in your car to go to the store. You pull up to a stop light. If you weren’t expected to put your foot on the gas when the light turned green, you’d never go anywhere. If you weren’t expected to stop at the red light, you’d find yourself in trouble sooner rather than later. Without expectations, people act without direction and you never reach your destination.
One of my favorite authors – Stephen Covey – once said, “Treat a person as they are and they will remain as they are. Treat a person as they can and should be and they will become as they can and should be.” If you provide the right significance to expectations, you’ll align yourself with the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.
Problems arise when you expect too much or too little from yourself or others. This is how you can set yourself up for disappointment. You can’t expect everyone to have the same conviction as you, but you can manage your expectations.
When you set clear expectations – for yourself or your team – you open doors. By embracing compassion, you’ll create relationships that instill confidence. But most importantly, you’ll do away with all the adoration and status associated with your position of power and allow others to feel a sense of professional kinship.
If you check off these boxes, you will have become approachable. The Team Members who feel they can approach you will contribute ideas without fearing blowback because they know you’re open to their suggestions. But where do you go from here? Approachability is something that requires upkeep. Keep your approachability alive by continuing to do these five things.
One. Over time you may come to possess a wealth of knowledge and information. Be wise and ethical in your use of this information. If people have a reason to trust you, they can collaborate without fear of retribution.
Two. As a leader, you don’t always have to fix things. People should want to come to you with good and bad news. Let them know they can always come to you. Be a Sounding Board, Listen Intently and let others devise solutions.
Three. There’s always something to learn. Ask a lot of questions and stay curious.
Four. Be Transparent. When you freely share personal and professional information, you allow people to get to know and understand you.
Five. When your cup runs over, fill the cup of someone else who could benefit from your stories and your wealth of experience. You’ve been blessed with some great opportunities and you’ll continue to be blessed by more. Be mindful of what is given to you over time and be sure to give just as much back. Above all else, pour into others.
When people find success, they have a tendency to think in terms of how others can serve them. Don’t fall into this mindset. We were all put on this earth to serve others. The easiest way to make an impact on the world is to approach every opportunity with an attitude of gratitude. When you believe that this is part of your purpose in life, you become a steward of your community and a positive influence on society.
So no matter how successful you become, show others compassion and be approachable.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
When I think about the actions you should take to be more approachable this week, discussing the importance of appearances seems like a great jumping off point.
You know that expression, treat others the way you want to be treated? Spin that toward your aesthetic. Present yourself to others the way you would want to be presented to. So Just for a second, put yourself in the shoes of a member of your team or a member of your audience. Try looking in the mirror. Your appearance says a lot about you; so dress for success, monitor your body language and definitely smile more. People are naturally attracted to those who are happy. By making your appearance a part of your personal brand, you lay the groundwork for a memorable first impression.
Next, let’s put your approachability to the test. This week, find someone you can trust to be your sounding board. When you find the right person to hear you out, be genuine and ask them about how your words and actions make them feel. In doing so, you let them know how you value their opinion. When they open-up to you, listen more than you speak and always show your appreciation. It doesn’t cost a dime to tell someone how much they mean to you. When you make thoughtfulness part of your new normal, maintaining approachability almost becomes second nature.
Last, but certainly not least, I’m going to encourage you to own up to one way that you expect too much of yourself or the people around you. It may take some soul searching to figure this out, but when you do, retire that ineffective expectation and determine a realistic standard to replace it with. If you set aside some time to reflect and make a habit of developing healthy expectations, you can radically improve your attitude and reinforce the longevity of your relationships.
If you add these tasks to your workflow and aim to become approachable, you’ll be amazed by just how quickly you see the benefits come into focus. If you believe it’s possible and start today, you’ll be thriving in no time.
Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact on aspiring leaders and young professionals of all backgrounds, so if any of the thoughts we shared resonate with you or you’d like to help us improve, please write a review for the show on Apple Podcasts.
You can join our community on Linkedin and Twitter by using #IgnitionPoint. If you’d like to be featured on our next Minisode of Carpe Weekend, please share your big win of the week with me directly by emailing [email protected].
We hold out until the end of each show to share who inspired each week’s Ignition Point for two reasons. To keep you curious and remind you to focus on the motivation.
Based on the response I received following Episode 1, I decided to shake things up for Episode 2. Instead of featuring an adapted address from a famous influencer, I wrote this speech for this week’s Ignition Point to remind you that you can always try something new. If you liked this original content, please let me know.
Before we go, Thanks for supporting the show! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe wherever you listen to great podcasts so you can be the first to hear our newest episodes when they drop every Monday. For more, you can check out decisiveleap.com/ignitionpoint.
Throughout this week, try to remember that Big Things Happen One Day at a Time – so stay motivated and keep moving forward. If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!