Accessible Leadership is contingent upon the belief that powerful interpersonal connections are ultimately the impetus for social change. It is absolutely necessary to secure what we call “buy-in” from those whose beliefs you are intending to help shift. This means others have accepted and internalized the core ideas being targeted as well as the authenticity of the relationship. Creating buy-in occurs after the three C’s have been appropriately utilized. Once an individual or group understands you genuinely care and you have established a meaningful connection, it is much more likely that they will change in an effort to emulate the behaviors you are, hopefully, positively exhibiting.
Once we have developed strong relationships with the target individuals/group, we are then able to recruit them to assist us in our efforts to facilitate positive shifts in dysfunctional belief systems amongst their peers. They, in turn, become the agents of change and exert influence on others. If we have followed the tenets of Accessible Leadership, it is more likely others will incorporate the target message into their own belief systems willingly, albeit with our assistance. This step is important because we can only hope to develop these very strong connections with a select few. Yet, these individuals (the select few) become conduits, conveying the message to others through interactions with their peers. By tapping into a network of existing relationships, their influence is likely more potent than that of an outsider. They become the most qualified candidates to convey the message. This begins a cycle of influence.
Once we have established a network of Accessible Leaders, it is important to believe in their efficacy. Nothing belittles an emerging leader more than micromanagement. It is necessary for us to act as process observers rather than facilitators at this point, offering assistance only when it is requested or it is absolutely apparent they need our help. The most effective leaders enable those around them to understand their abilities and competencies as agents of change. This can be readily accomplished by assuming a mentoring role – one that is authentic, genuine, influential and accessible.
It seems laughably simple but we, as proponents of Accessible Leadership, believe in the immense power of influence every individual has within him/herself. We also believe it is our responsibility to help these potential leaders express this power, but congruence is absolutely necessary when doing so. It is easy to get lost in the title of “leader” or “mentor,” which erodes authenticity in a relationship. To combat this, boundaries often inherent in roles need to be broken down through bi-directional interaction and collaboration. Moving forward, although seemingly counterintuitive, requires taking a step back and seizing opportunities to reflect on what is important to you and your interactions with those you influence. Leadership should be fun and accessible; we have the amazing opportunity to make the world a better place one unique individual at a time.