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Executives cannot be effective if people are hesitant to approach them. Being the boss puts a natural barrier between executives and their employees – and they need to know how to break it down. The higher a person goes, the less they may see or hear of the truth within their organization. Being approachable means a leader:

  • Gets to the truth faster.
  • Gets a jump on delivering solutions to problems and adjusting strategy accordingly.

What to Look For in Candidates

You want to hire executives who lead – not rule. Positive signs that a candidate will be an approachable leader include:

  • Proactive communication skills: Frequent two-way communication breaks down walls and creates touch points for an ongoing exchange of key business information. Look for candidates who take the lead when it comes to communicating. It may be as simple as being the first to say hello or recognizing others for their achievements. The best leaders regularly put themselves in their employees’ shoes and take continuous measures to keep communication lines open.
  • Interpersonal strengths: Top-performing executives are those who see the inherent value in everyone within their organization. It means caring enough about others to learn their names and ask about their day or their recent vacation. This applies not only to their peers, superiors and direct reports, but to anyone they encounter. They are pleasant even under pressure, they smile, and by simply showing good manners they become more approachable.
  • Honesty and transparency: Executives need to have difficult conversations about how to make improvements or even tell someone why a relationship is not working out. It is not easy to do; however, being honest and transparent fosters trust that a person is genuine.
  • An ability to share failures: No one wants to talk about their mistakes with someone who refuses to recognize their own. A good leader puts their pride aside and realizes that it is okay to admit their failures; in fact, it is beneficial for their organization. Being a leader is about mentoring and developing your team. The best ones use their own experiences – both positive and negative – toward this end.
  • A commitment to lifelong learning: Learning something new is an excellent way for executives to build their personal knowledge bank, as well as relate to employees, clients and partners. It often requires them to step outside their comfort zone and make a conscious effort to expose themselves to different ideas and viewpoints. Like so many top leadership qualities, it demands that they show their human side – the one that keeps growing, learning and improving.

As you strive for smarter executive hiring, consider partnering with BrainWorks for better results. Our industry knowledge, professional networks and wide expertise enable us to deliver executive candidates ideally matched to your organizational needs. Read our related posts and contact us today to set up an initial meet and greet.


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