To the people you are trying to lead or influence (employees, customers, congregation, etc.), what is more important: your ability or your availability? Yes, I know you’re busy, but if you are so busy you aren’t available when they need you, your leadership credibility will suffer.
The foundation of leadership credibility was integrity: Be Honest (8/14 post). Second was Be Visible (8/21 post). Third on the list is Be Available. What your followers want most is your time, not your brain—they have one of their own.
Almost all leaders say they have an open door policy. For those that really do have one:
The door will actually be open.
People will feel free to walk in.
The admin staff doesn’t feel that their primary job is shield the leader from the minions.
When people do walk in, the leader gives full attention and listens to what they have to say.
Office location and arrangement is part of the Availability equation:
“When I arrived in Nashville, the company had a long dark 1940s style “mahogany row.” It was separated from the factory by a sign on the door: OFFICES. In other words, “Don’t enter unless summoned”—like when you were in junior high school. Fortunately, our change-for-the-better-oriented president got rid of the sign, and although we didn’t spend the money to get rid of mahogany row (prohibitively expensive because of so much asbestos in the walls, ceilings, etc.), he did mandate that our office doors were to be open at all times unless we were having a truly confidential conversation. It is surprising how such a simple thing changed the look of the hallway from a “restricted area” to just another hallway where the president happens to spend his time.” (Excerpt from 16 Stones, chapter 12.)
Get a can of WD-40, lubricate the hinges on your door, then open it—really. You’ll be surprised at how your credibility will rise.
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Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner