Approachable Leadership™ Research

Phil is often asked about the studies and books cited in the Approachable Leadership™ keynote speech and the workshop. Here are some links to download some of the key studies (note: many of these are behind a paywall) and books that he cites:

Organizational Citizenship and Approachability

Organizational citizenship is absolutely critical to performance (not to mention engagement). In this study over 67% of observed differences in performance were explained by this one factor:

What Matters More? Contrasting the Effects of Job Satisfaction and Service Climate on Hotel Food and Beverage Managers’ Job Performance,
Sean A. Way, et al, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Vol. 51 pp. 379-397 (2010).

What causes organizational citizenship? One example of organizational citizenship is making suggestions. This study that shows that 88% of employees who made suggestions rate their supervisor as approachable:

Does Herzberg’s Motivation Theory Have Staying Power? Nigel Bassett-Jones and Geoffrey C. Lloyd, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 24 No. 10, pp. 929-943 (2005).

Motivation at work

What motivates people to do their best at work (including engaging in organizational citizenship or discretionary effort?). Herzberg’s two-factor motivation theory is still the best explanation.

One More Time How Do You Motivate Employees? by Frederick Herzberg, Harvard Business Review, January 2003

Drive by Dan Pink (2011)

How to be more approachable

The first key to being an approachable leader is welcomeness or to create the right space. The assumption here is that people want to be great - nobody wakes up hoping to do a crappy job. The assumptions we make as leaders about those we lead are astonishingly important.

Don’t believe me? Listen to this podcast: How to Become Batman (Invisibilia)

Learn more about the Pygmalion Effect.

Connect Then Lead: How to Get Influence and Use It, Harvard Business Review, July 2013

The second key behavior for approachable leaders is to seek understanding and to create the right feeling. The key behaviors here are active listening and empathy.

How To Be More Compassionate (from one of my favorite blogs, Eric Barker’s Barking Up the Wrong Tree)

Learn more about Active Listening here.

The third key approachability behavior is following through or to create the right action. A big part of this is helping those we lead make progress.

What Really Motivates Workers, by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer, Harvard Business Review January 2010.

Also check out their book The Progress Principle (2011)

Approachability can be a matter of life or death

Is this approachability stuff really all that important? Well, in some cases it is a matter of life or death. The examples Phil focuses on are plane crashes and medical mistakes.

Medical mistakes (over 70% of 2,455 critical incidents in one study) are caused by miscommunication - and this if often caused by the unapproachability of leaders in the operating room.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande (2011)

The Human Factor: The Critical Importance of Effective Teamwork and Communication in Providing Safe Care, Leonard et al, Quality Safety Healthcare, Vol. 13 (Suppl 1) pp. i85-i90 (2004)

Plane crashes often happen due to miscommunication in the cockpit, again often because leaders are unapproachable to flight crew.

Korean Air Lines story from Outliers: The Story of Success, Maclcolm Gladwell (2011)

Air Florida Flight 90 (This is the flight recording we listen to during the keynote).

More money, live longer and happier, luckier in love

If you aren’t persuaded that being unapproachable will kill you, there are a lot of positive reasons to be more approachable.

You make more money (lots of research cited in the Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders, 2006).

You live longer and happier (check out the research in The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler, Robin Koval, 2006).

You are luckier in love (Eric Barker again, this time explaining how one guy can listen to a couple for 5 minutes and tell whether they’ll stay married with 91% accuracy - care to take a guess how many of the 5 factors he looks for are approachability behaviors?)

Continue your journey

The research listed above is literally the tip of the iceberg. Once you start looking for approachability behavior you’ll notice it everywhere. Please let me know anytime you see research or a story or anything that you think is a good example of approachability at work or in life. Good luck!


Even more ways to continue your Approachable Leadership™ journey:

approachable leadership infographic

Click to download the Approachable Leadership™ Infographic

Approachable Leadership Slides

Download the slides from the Approachable Leadership™ Keynote Presentation

Learning Objectives: During the Approachable Leadership Workshop™ your leaders will:

  • Practice and get comfortable using approachability behaviors;
  • Deal with obstacles and roadblocks they will encounter on their approachability journey;
  • Understand the importance of follow-through and how to handle situations they can’t fix;
  • Identify opportunities to apply approachability as soon as they leave the workshop;
  • Choose a co-mentor to work with and support them as they build their “approachability muscle memory”

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Bring the message to your company leaders with an Approachable Leadership™ Workshop. Call 800-888-9115 to schedule a no obligation call on delivering a customized, results-driven training experience to your leaders.

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What others are saying about the Approachable Leadership™ Workshop:

“Phil hit a home run. Not only did the marketing of his presentation draw a crowd but everyone remained attentive throughout his interactive and stimulating presentation… The proof came with two member companies looking to book him for corporate training before he left that day.

I’d highly recommend utilizing Phillip’s services when moving to improve the skills of first line supervisors, human resources professionals and others in management roles.”

Wolf Gugler, President, Central Oklahoma Human Resources Association & President, Wolf Gugler Executive Search

Call 800-888-9115 and bring Approachable Leadership™ to your company today