Many people think that being relatable is one of those leadership traits that people are born with. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Being relatable is something that can be learned and cultivated with enough practice and conscious effort.
Being relatable with your peers at work is important because when you are relatable you are forging connections with other people and creating positive interactions. A relatable entrepreneur can win over powerful investors, a relatable CEO can inspire employees to do their best work, and a relatable salesperson can form deeper connections with potential clients. Being relatable is something that all sorts of people are naturally drawn to, trying to integrate the following habits into your daily practice will help to make you more relatable and easier to get along with.
With that being said, here are 7 leadership traits to help you become a more relatable leader!
1. Maintain Contact
If you attend a conference or networking session make an effort to stay connected with the people you meet. By keeping the conversation going you can grow and maintain valuable relationships that may help you in the long term. Nowadays social media platforms like Instagram and Linkedin are great for keeping up with people, but we recommend a more personal form of contact.
This can be done by sending them an email once a week, sending them a text once a month, or giving them a call every couple of months.
It’s amazing how just checking up on someone periodically can lead to collaboration in the future. Taking the initiative to maintain contact with friends takes a lot of courage, which is why it tops our list of top 7 leadership traits.
2. Put people at ease
An approachable leader makes people feel comfortable and at ease. People at ease can work together, connect, and communicate without fear of retribution. A large key to helping put people at ease centers around being yourself. Make a conscious effort to be authentic with the people around you. Only 72% of people show their true self at work, and it usually takes two to three months for them to get that way. You’ll be more relatable to them if you show them who you really are rather than the act you put on, plus you’ll enjoy your job more. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to share your interests or reveal your personality and sense of humour.
In addition to having an authentic demeanour, it is also important to make sure that your workers have all the resources that they need to get their job done. Giving people the tools that they need to get their job done is key to putting them at ease. That’s why this is one of the most important leadership traits.
3. Listen intensively
Good leaders, specifically those who have the soft skill of being relatable, listen more than they speak. As a leader, you don’t always have to fix things. Listening attentively is a key element of letting others speak and come up with solutions. Edward van Luinen, founder and accelerator at Global Talent Builders, says that when he meets with a client — whether he’s known that person for years or is meeting him or her for the first time — he works to quickly assess what that client needs at the moment in order for them to feel better accepted and appreciated. Listening is one of the easiest leadership traits to develop. All you have to do is close your mouth and think about what the other person is saying.
4. Stay curious
Part of being relatable requires you to stay open and ask lots of questions. Stay curious and interested – there is always room to learn something new. We are all human, no one functions like Google and can answer any question that comes their way. It is important to be able to continue to ask questions and be humble to admit when you don’t know the answer.
5. Be a sounding board
Part of being a leader includes people coming to you with good and bad news. In these situations, it is important to show compassion and empathy; let people know they can always come to you. By understanding and providing employees with what they need to succeed, leaders can build a sense of trust, thereby strengthening the relationships they have with their employees and consequently, the relationships employees have with one another.
6. Earn their total trust
Approachable leaders possess a lot of information and are transparent, they do not advocate keeping secrets. When you freely share personal and business information, you allow people to get to know you so they can understand you. This includes mistakes. If you mess up, fess up and tell the team rather than trying to hide it from them. Be intelligent and ethical in your use of information but in order to be relatable you need to give your people a reason to trust you.
7. The Progression of Values
John Maxwell, a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, writes about leadership and describes the key to being relatable as a progression of values. Maxwell discusses that there are three main steps in being relatable and they are all centered around values and how you discuss these values with those around you.
Share your values
Knowing what ideals you live by, be it faith, family or integrity, show others how you see the world. “When you know what you stand for, what you believe, and how you see the world, you’re in the best position to live authentically with your people because you know who you are,” Maxwell writes. This goes hand and hand with what we have talked about in regard to being your authentic self. When you know who you are and what you stand for and articulate that people can relate to you and it forms a sense of relatability.
See the value in others
“Every person you encounter has intrinsic value, which means they should be appreciated for who they are,” writes Maxwell. Even if you find it difficult, it’s important to apply this belief to everyone you work with. If you appreciate people and their impact on your life, you’ll discover that they relate to you a lot better. Granted, some people are a little harder to appreciate than others, the responsibility of a leader is to dig deep and see more than others do. Leaders should be treating their people as 10s because that kind of belief creates an atmosphere for growth. If you’ll appreciate people and their impact on your life, you’ll discover that they relate to you a lot better.
Add value to others
Rather than acting like it is a chore to be helping someone, a relatable leader goes out of their way to be kind and encouraging to their colleagues; by showing them you care you can add value to others. “When people can see that you genuinely like people, they will believe that you might genuinely like them, too,” explains Maxwell. Leaders can do this by inviting other people into a relationship and regularly serving others, offering a quick check-in on how they are doing and acting interested in what they have to say.
Being relatable does not mean that you must be everyone’s best friend, but instead means being yourself; living an authentic, consistent life with the people you lead. If you want better relationships, you must learn the habits to be relatable.