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  • Writer's pictureJean Lamoureux

Balancing Authority and Approachability as a Leader



In the world of leadership, finding the right balance between authority and approachability remains one of the most challenging yet crucial elements for success. Authority ensures leaders can effectively guide their teams and enforce standards, while approachability fosters a supportive environment that encourages communication and collaboration. Here’s a deep dive into why this balance is essential and how you can achieve it.


Understanding Authority in Leadership

Authority in leadership is characterized by the ability to command respect and direct the actions of others. It involves setting clear expectations, making decisive choices, and holding team members accountable. Leaders with authority are seen as confident and competent, qualities that inspire confidence in their decision-making and strategic direction.


However, too much focus on authority can make a leader seem unapproachable or autocratic. This can lead to a lack of creativity in the team, reduced employee engagement, and ultimately, a decrease in organizational performance.


The Importance of Approachability

Approachability in a leader refers to being accessible and easy to relate to. Leaders who are approachable are often viewed as empathetic and open, making it easy for team members to come forward with ideas, concerns, and feedback. This openness not only enhances team collaboration but also builds a loyal and trusting team environment.


Nonetheless, excessive approachability may risk eroding a leader's authority, making it harder to enforce decisions or lead with assertiveness when necessary. Finding the right degree of approachability without compromising on the respect necessary for effective leadership is key.


Strategies for Balancing Authority and Approachability

  • Open Communication: Maintain an open-door policy that encourages team members to share their thoughts and concerns, but also be clear about when and how decisions are made. Regularly scheduled meetings and informal check-ins can facilitate this balance.


  • Empathy and Active Listening: Show genuine concern for your team members' well-being and professional development. Actively listen to their inputs and show that you value their opinions, even when you make a different decision.


  • Consistency in Behavior: Be consistent in your actions and the way you apply rules. Consistency helps build trust and ensures that your authority is respected, while also showing that you are fair and reasonable.


  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate the values you want to see in your team. Show assertiveness and decisiveness when necessary, but also humility and openness to learning from others.


  • Encourage Participation: Create opportunities for your team to contribute to decision-making processes. This could be through brainstorming sessions, team meetings, or by assigning team members to lead projects or initiatives.


  • Feedback and Development: Provide regular, constructive feedback in a way that is helpful and encouraging, not punitive. Also, be open to receiving feedback on your own leadership style.



Leaders who successfully balance authority with approachability can drive high performance while maintaining a positive, inclusive workplace culture. This balance isn't achieved overnight but through continuous self-awareness, adjustment, and dedication to personal growth and the development of your team. By fostering an environment where people feel valued and understood, you encourage loyalty and drive your organization towards greater success.


This balanced approach not only enhances individual and team performance but also positions you as a leader who is respected and loved, truly capable of driving change and achieving results.


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