How to be an Approachable Leader in Your School

Author: Nabeelah Bulpitt

Posted: 10 Jun 2015

Estimated time to read: 3 mins

A boss and a leader are very different, one motivates and offers guidance whilst the other tells people what to do. Two  colleages discussing ideas using a tablet and computer.jpeg

Your aspirations to be an effective leader can have their limitations if people are hesitant to approach you, so in order for you to lead to the best of your ability, your team members need to feel comfortable enough to approach you with any problems and suggestions they may have. A great leader does not only lead a team but gets stuck in and involved in all the action, this makes them approachable and respectable. 

It is important to be inviting and open towards your colleagues as this can make you seem welcoming and friendly - it removes the presence of ‘status’ and power in the relationship and can bring about a pleasant atmosphere and working environment. It's about empathy - and a responsive leader can make everyone in a team feel involved and valued, and this boosts momentum and inspires everyone to work harder.

Communicate Well

It is also paramount to establish an open line of communication between you and your team - communication is key if you want to come across as a competent leader. Maintaining a chain of command in the office can promote structure, but it can also lead to a very stern environment where you become a ‘Boss’ as opposed to the more inspiring leader you may wish to be. Simple things such as addressing your colleagues in the morning with a smile, or catching up with them on how their weekends were can make a significant difference and can immediately put your colleagues at ease.

Don't Alienate Yourself

Remaining approachable can sometimes be a small and simple gesture such as implementing an ‘open-door’ policy for your colleagues. This way they can walk in and have a chat whenever they feel that something is a cause for concern or if they want to get something off their chest. Your office can act as a ‘safe place’ or sanctuary for your colleagues where they can express their worries and receive feedback and help.

Be Open

You can also consider sharing your experiences of both success and setbacks with your team members to strengthen communication and acknowledge the fact that errors happen. It can be important to emphasise the importance of optimism and the ‘onwards and upwards’ approach; mistakes shouldn’t be seen as negative, but as learning curves. After all, everyone makes them at some point or another and rarely makes the same mistake twice - embracing mistakes are a better way to learn and receive constructive criticism and feedback; this will help to ensure that they don’t happen again.

If you want to build a better connection with your team members it might be a good idea to socialise and engage in fun activities with them. This can aid in bringing about friendship, alliance and build upon trust whilst simultaneously keeping an easy flow of communication in the workplace as well. Activities such putting together a bowling competition can act as a good motivation tool and team building activity. Even organising a dinner or workplace party can enable your colleagues to get to know each other and you better, this can aid in their appreciation of your personality and work ethic.

Leading a team is never an easy task, but it is important to get to know your colleagues and allow them to get to know you.
Communication is a key element to teamwork and getting stuck in and working alongside your team can motivate and influence them to work harder. It is important to consider the fact that you would like to be a Leader, not a Boss.

In fact, have a read of @LollyDaskal's Blog - her thoughts on leadership are brilliant!

download dos and donts of communication pdf