How to Be a More Accessible Leader


I've been writing a lot of pieces lately about how to be a more approachable and more informed boss, so, hey, what's one more? The Harvard Business Review's blog this week did a post on a similar topic that has a slick and slim four-item list to also tackle this, which is as follows:

1. Show your face.
2. Reinvent your intranet.
3. Cultivate conversation.
4. Pull the plug.

All of these dovetail into one point, really: Be more accessible. Don't bury yourself in digital communication channels if you can easily interact with everyone else face-to-face.

Without naming names, I used to work in a place where there were about six other employees all working within a few feet of each other. Instant Messenger  was the preferred method of relaying anything. One time my interns -- who were shared by everyone else on staff -- were quietly chit-chatting to keep themselves engaged while they did thankless grunt work. Someone took it upon themselves to email everyone that the interns should "stop making so much noise."

That person was my boss, and it just makes for an awkward divide. I understand wanting a quiet workspace, but if you can't just pop by and ask people something in person, what does that say about handling matters that, well, really matter?

Your IT person can help you enact the second point here, and HBR says "borrowing a practice that has become common on the public Internet, many leaders have installed tools on their company's intranet site that allow employees to rate, share, or comment on much of the content that appears there. That simple innovation can turn a static message (a corporate announcement, a letter from the CEO) into the start of a conversation."

And while work is always hectic and there's always something that needs to get done, there's always time to have a conversation about things that need addressing, right?

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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