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Can I be the boss and a friend?

friends-with-team

Q - I really want to be friends with my team, but I'm worried it will affect performance. Can I be boss and friend?

A - This is a common question asked by new managers, especially those who have been promoted from within the team to manage their peers.  It is a tricky one to answer, as it really depends on how you deal with the emotional side of leadership and friendship.  Let’s begin at the end - what if you had to fire one of your team?  Would it be easier if you had kept work and friendships separate or together?  Many senior managers put a little ‘distance’ between themselves and their teams at work for that very reason, as even managing performance issues can be a challenge when you are friends.  Some will maintain friendships outside of work, with a very different relationship at work.  Others are perfectly happy to mix the two aspects, and this can lead to long term loyalty and support for each other - the value of which cannot be under-estimated.  So the choice is yours.  If friendships with work colleagues are important to you then you will find a way to make it work.  But prepare yourself in advance for those difficult situations, maybe even run through some scenarios with your team/friends to know how you would handle them.