Are You An Approachable Leader?By Dr Adam Fraser | Jun 06, 11 12:55 PM
Do you really understand the people you lead? Are you approachable and authentic with them, or do you have separation of powers?
A short time ago, I was speaking at an education conference when two women approached me. We started to chat and I asked why they thought their company Fuji Xerox is doing such a great job. Without hesitation, they said it was because the leadership team is amazing, and they have really nailed it with the people they have chosen.
They then went on to tell stories of how the leadership team didn’t see themselves above the rest of the organisation, they mixed with all the employees and had deep strong relationships all over the company.
Then I flew to New Zealand to present to Westfield in Auckland. I was particularly excited about this because my research showed that they had an engagement level of 84%, (almost unheard of) and certainly one of the highest I have seen. The energy in the room was amazing, it was like a family reunion. Then I met the Director who was very friendly and authentic. He spoke about the organisation and you could sense his enthusiasm and passion for the people in it. Then I witnessed him be made fun of by his PA and other staff. You could tell that this was not an ego driven, precious leader. He was part of the team. No wonder their staff turnover is so low.
From there I went to a manufacturer Cerebos Greggs. During my workshop with them I asked them to come up with a ‘bright spot’ (something they do that works really well and improves the organisation). Many of the groups sited the company get togethers they have each quarter. This is where the CEO comes in and presents to everyone in the organisation and gives them an update on where the company is going and what they have achieved. What they love the most is that everyone is invited from factory staff to executives. “Everyone comes together and mixes and it makes us feel like we are part of something, and that we are important to the organization,” said a member of staff.
What these companies have in common was that the leaders did not see themselves as better than other people in the business. They mixed and were part of the broader team. The result was that all these organisations were performing well, had very high engagement levels and had very low turnover of staff. All this saved them huge dollars and kept their culture alive.
In contrast I have worked in other organisations where the leaders viewed the other people in the business with contempt and inferior to them. In turn, their engagement levels were lower and staff turnover much higher.
When I was in the US I heard about a CEO who had a special elevator installed which went straight to his office so he didn’t have to talk to the staff. The TV show sensation ‘Undercover Boss’ is all about leaders getting to know staff at lower levels of the business. Do we really need a camera crew and a disguise before we can find out what is happening in our organisation?
This is not just a problem for the executive suite - how does your leadership style affect your employees and workplace culture?
Dr Adam Fraser is one of Australia’s leading educators, researchers and thought leaders in the area of human performance. He’s spoken all around the country for Business Chicks and we love him! Learn more at www.dradamfraser.com.au