In discussing strong leadership traits and manager behaviors, accessibility ranks extremely high as a factor in developing leaders, growing talent and shaping culture. This important behavior needs to be balanced with prioritization, the subject of some of my recent blogs. A recent Forbes blog piece makes the case for accessibility as THE top tip for effective leadership. The author draws heavily on his personal experiences where he was not accessible to demonstrate why accessibility is so important.
Here’s a good way to think about it. Lack of accessibility by a leader is a major derailer. It frustrates everyone who needs the leader’s thought and decisions, materially reducing engagement and followership as subordinates — themselves often also leaders — either find ways to avoid involving the inaccessible leader or use lack of accessibility as an excuse for procrastinating or perhaps even failing to deliver. This gravely reduces the leader’s influence and effectiveness.
On the other hand, leaders need to manage their time, prioritizing the activities that will have the most impact. This requires not being accessible to some other things to ensure that they spend the time on important initiatives such as team projects that will drive future business success. As I’ve said repeatedly, most of today’s important work is done by knowledge workers in project teams http://stangercarlson.com/accelerated-development-of-leaders.
There are also situations in which accessibility can be delegated to a trusted protege for the less urgent but still important priorities. There are a lot of benefits that happen when a leader takes on a protege which are explained well in a recent HBR blog. These include good surrogate accessibility as well as a helpful ear to the ground.