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PHI Teaches at LeadingAge Annual Convention

November 9, 2012

More than 300 participants filled a ballroom at the annual LeadingAge convention in Denver to attend PHI’s session, “The Approachable Leader: Do You Measure Up?” The workshop, facilitated by Cean Eppelheimer and Susan Misiorski, engaged the audience in small and large group activities to explore this popular topic. Participants named many important qualities of approachable leaders, such as:


  • Greeting each person and knowing them as individuals outside of their job tasks
  • Being visible throughout the workplace (monitor office time)
  • Being a good listener
  • Putting tasks aside during conversation (such as charting and checking Blackberries and email)
  • Using friendly body language and tone of voice
  • Being a transparent, honest communicator

After reflecting on qualities they felt were important to approachability, participants completed a self-assessment identifying personal strengths and opportunities regarding their own approachability. As the session continued, the PHI Coaching CommunicationSM skills were introduced as critical relationship building skills that support a leader’s approachability. These skills include active listening along with paraphrase and open, curious questions, the ability to “pull back” in emotionally charged situations, and the use of words/phrases that are free of blame and judgment.

Also important to being an approachable leader is the modeling of an appreciative approach. Appreciative Inquiry is a school of thought that asks us to see the core strengths in each person and in organization systems. A leader who sees and praises each person’s talents is destined to have far better relationships than a leader who communicates with staff primarily when something is wrong.

Through the exploration of the many characteristics of approachability, the conclusion was reached that leaders who are perceived as approachable are in the strongest position to support an organization through a deep transformation such as implementing person-directed culture change.

There were hundreds of wonderful sessions at the LeadingAge annual meeting, including a keynote address by Desmond Tutu. Attendees came from all over the world to gather, network, and learn together in support of aging services. If you missed this event, be sure to check out next year’s annual meeting in Dallas on October 27-30, 2013. We hope to see you there!

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