Monday, March 19, 2007

Guest Post - Becoming Approachable

Thanks to William Hull for this contribution
I found this on the http://greekmovement.com/leadership/ webpage. Thought it could be something of a positive story for your blog.

Will
Why do so many leaders end up feeling like Michael Scott who says that “there is always a distance” between them and the people they are trying to lead?

LISTEN TO MICHAEL SCOTT FROM THE OFFICE by Mike Beckham, University of Oklahoma SigEp Alumni

I think that it is because we tend to treat others differently when we have the authority to make decisions. Maybe we listen less. Maybe we find ourselves less willing to truly consider different perspectives or approaches. What it can communicate to others is that we don’t have to respect them as an equal. Inevitably people feel burned and we begin to seem very unapproachable. So how can we be more approachable? A few thoughts:

Treat everyone with respect
Respect people regardless of their position. I think that this is true even when someone hasn’t done anything to deserve our respect. Be an example for others in the way that you treat others respectfully – even when they don’t deserve it.

Listen to what others have to say
Show that you are engaged by asking follow up questions and seeking to understand. Be open to different perspectives and opinions, and look for ways to incorporate what you learn.

Value people above results
People will follow you and find you to be approachable when they know that you value their well being more than getting things done. This means knowing when to give people a break when they are worn out. It can also mean showing grace and encouragement towards another officer in your house that has failed in an area. One of the things that I constantly tell men in my chapter is, “Leading in this house is about growth and not perfection.” I’ll probably talk more about this some other time, but the general idea is this: Even though things won’t go perfectly, that’s okay because the goal is for them to grow as a person.

Practice Humility
As one author once put it, “consider others better than yourself.” No one likes an arrogant person. We could all use a dose of humility every once in a while.

In an earlier blog I talked about how it was so important to be able to make a decision and set a course even when others disagreed with you. Unfortunately, our tendency is to take that and use it as an excuse not to listen to or respect other people. Just the opposite should be true of us. A leader holds the responsibility for setting the course of a fraternity or sorority, but a leader also holds the responsibility to be an example in the way that they treat and care for others.

Mike Beckham is an alum of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma. As an undergraduate he earned a degree in finance. Currently he is a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ at OU. He also serves as the chapter counselor for Sig Ep.