Being a Leader – Friendly versus Friend

 | Leadership

While leadership is all about building meaningful relationships and connections, becoming a great leader is often a fine line between caring for your employees and leading them professionally.

Leading a team comes with additional responsibilities such as giving constructive feedback and completing employee reviews as well as making the tough decisions. A ‘friendly’ manager is someone who can show they care on a personal level without overstepping the mark towards close personal friendships with their employees.

What’s the Difference?

When considering a comparison here, being a leader is not dissimilar to being a parent. It’s easy to want to be the ‘fun, cool’ parent but in reality kids also need discipline, direction and clear boundaries in order for them to grow into capable and successful adults.

The same applies when you’re a leader. You might want to be everyone’s best friend but just like parenting, in order to help your team be the best they can be, you need to push them out of their comfort zone, hold them accountable and have the difficult conversations.

What should I do?

Often when someone is promoted to a leadership position, it can create tension within their existing workplace friendships. If this happens, as a leader it’s important to acknowledge the change and create healthy boundaries with your employees without compromising your position.

Being a friendly leader, rather than a friend, also means it’s essential to focus on building trust, honesty and loyalty amongst your team by being consistent in your approach and keeping relationships friendly but professional at all times.

This means as a leader you can no longer participate in office gossip on Facebook or be the last person standing at Friday night drinks. Instead, you need to lead by example and know when to draw the line. This might mean joining the team for a drink or two at the end of the week but leaving before things get too wild.

What’s the Last Word?

Effective leadership is all about acknowledging your role and the associated responsibilities. Take the time to understand the difference between being a ‘friend’ to your employees and a friendly leader because at the end of the day, what every effective team needs most is a friendly leader, not a friend in their leader.

Contact the Seed People Consulting Team to discuss how we can tailor a Leadership Development Program and/or Modules to meet your organisational needs!

Contact the Seed People Consulting team to discuss how we can support developing your diverse culture today!

Meet the author: Stacey Kelly

Stacey brings extensive industry experience and knowledge, as well as the energy, passion and inspiration of a great leader. She previously held senior people/cultures roles in private and public organisations, including Hunter TAFE and Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

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