In her effort to build on the long-term success of a particular manager and his division, the new chief operations officer, began a somewhat informal, yet very purposeful, review. His division has a workload similar to the others, and his consumers are in no measurable way different than those served by other divisions. His education, training, and general experience, don’t distinguish him from the other managers. She was left to wonder why he and his division consistently outperform the others. It took months, but finally she found it—he’s readily accessible!
Whether you’re a member of his leadership team, part of the division staff, or a consumer you can get to him. He seldom eats lunch the same place two days in a row. He has found a morning cup of coffee or lunch somewhere throughout the division keeps him grounded and in touch. Sure, it takes some time, but he feels it’s time well spent. He freely shares his cell number. With some he even shares his personal cell. He is clearly approachable.
He makes accessibility a priority, and he continually works to improve it. For example, he developed numbering system for emails and texts. In email subject lines and at the beginning of texts he asks that a number from 1 to 4 appear, designating the sender’s perceived level of urgency as follows: 1 – EMERGENCY, REPLY IMMEDIATELY, 2 – REPLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, 3 – REPLY WHEN CONVENIENT, 4 – NO NEED TO REPLY, FYI ONLY. He also uses this system when he sends emails and texts. From time to time he has to review the protocols of these numbers with some folks, but in the main, it works well. It helps to set priorities and expectations, and by so doing further enhances his accessibility.
Maximization of leadership potential is directly related to a leader’s level of accessibility.