In Middle School and High School when you have a question because you don't quite understand something, you are mocked and ridiculed..."you don't know?...everyone knows that." I have found leaders can be like a teenager and do this to their people when they have a question.
Wouldn't it be nice to ask a question and get an answer back that is informative and encouraging? A good leader does this by being approachable.
A leader who is approachable is a leader worth following.
Can those you lead approach you and ask you a question at any time? Do you feel questions challenge your authority?
Yesterday, I had a high school freshman ask a question about the way we lift in the off season. He was not questioning my leadership, but rather he was asking for further insight into his training. He was attempting to take better ownership of his training. As a leader, I must invite such questions. The vision is clear, I have communicated objectives and goals, and yet this young athlete desires to know more. This is a good thing.
To get your people to ask you the right questions you must be approachable first. This is how you become an approachable leader:
1. Be Trustworthy
Watch your jokes. Some jokes are hurtful and can bring people down; instead say something funny that builds up. Watch your sarcasm. Leave room for more questions. Make time to be interrupted and join a conversation. Be easy to talk to. Don't react rather respond, always. Have no secrets and be patient with your answers.
2. Be Transparent
Do they know you? Do they truly know who you are? Do you hide and wear a mask when leading? This is a question of Authenticity. Smile. Laugh. Fight being too important and serious all the time. Talk to them, not over them. Be open to change and listen to ideas. Share your failures.
3. Be Thankful
Encourage people to ask questions. Say "Thank you" and "That's a Great Question. Thank you for Asking." Give credit to others for their questions and ideas. “John, just asked me a great question.” People will be grateful for you when you are appreciative of their eagerness to know more.
Be excited for the conversation you will have with your people. Questions will keep your leadership accountable. It is not a challenge to your authority. Good leadership isn't telling people what to do, rather working with others for a common goal. Be someone that is easy to approach.