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Creating Successful Leaders

Friendship on the job can be beneficial to everyone. It makes work a fun place to be. It brings unity and camaraderie to the business. 

But friendships can potentially make it hard on your responsibility as a leader to remain consistent and fair. It might be easy for you to give your friend a break, extend a deadline, or ignore or overlook a mistake. And this is where having friends in your business can be detrimental.

The recent Harvard Business Review article offers a few helpful insights on how to navigate the tricky waters of managing your friends.

1. You’ll make them angry sometimes, but this is okay.

You have a job to do. Above all, remember why you’re there, in the position you’re in. You’ll have to “turn up the heat” on everyone from time to time, and this includes your friends.

They probably won’t be too pleased at this, at least not at first. Remember that this is their problem, not yours. Stay consistent, compassionate, but firm with your staff, and in time your work friends will appreciate and respect your consistency.

2. Learn to disagree with friends while still being their friend.

Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship. You can be passionate about a disagreement without being disrespectful. It’s a tricky balance, but it’s possible.

3. Keep work out of it at the dinner party.

When you spend time with them outside the office, remember the rules and standards of the workplace do not apply outside.

4. This arrangement won’t always work.

In some cases, having friends that report to you just doesn’t work. As the article’s author, Peter Bregman, points out: “Even if you have clarity about your role as a leader, emotional mastery, and friendship skills, the other person may not be able to live with your decisions.” As tough as it is, it’s better for both parties in this case to accept the reality of the situation and move on.

On the flip side, there are countless instances where your friendship with a staff member motivates them to do their best work. This is why knowing your staff is so crucial, so that you’ll be able to determine the relational dynamics early on and avoid potential conflicts.


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