Why Managers And Leaders Shouldn’t Be Friends
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 30, 2011
Most of the time there’s a very tenuous relationship between managers and their employees. You’ll see some managers being overly friendly and some barely being personable. I hate the extremes of almost anything, and I certainly don’t like it when leadership is concerned.
However, I can easily understand why most managers feel they shouldn’t get too close to their employees; I’m betting they don’t understand why though. Thinking about management and leadership principles isn’t something most people do while they’re in it. That’s why it’s left for people like me, standing on the outside, to help point things out.
Have you ever wondered why your spouse or child will accept advice from someone else and not you, even if you’re giving them the same advice? Or why your friends will ask you for advice and then debate you about it?
This is going to be a harsh reality; because those people don’t value your opinion like other people do. They know you and feel that there’s no way you can affect their lives because you’re looking at them personally rather than globally. It’s the strangest thing but it happens all the time.
I don’t have kids but I am married. Throughout our marriage there’s things that I’ve said or gave an opinion on that have gone in one ear and out the other. Yet later on I’ll have my wife tell me something someone told her and I’ll remind her that I said it first, and she’ll say “I know you did” and that’s pretty much that.
Most of my friends will do the same thing. It’s the reason I rarely have given advice to them, as I’ll always preface it with “You’re not going to do what I say anyway”, and they’ll know it’s true. I’ve only had one friend that has ever taken any of my advice and he’s told me that I’ve always been right and that he would always take it because it’s thought out well.
I appreciate that, but my reality is that I work hard not to give bad advice As a consultant, you might only get that one shot if the advice is really bad. To me, the best advice given is when you’ve had enough time to examine something, or all the information is given so that you can make a truly informed decision. Also, not giving snap advice on something you haven’t fully considered.
As a manager, I always felt that as long as I remained friendly and cordial, but not become friends, I’d have a lot more success, and it turned out to be true. When you see managers and employees as friends, it adds problems such as trying to discipline or educate someone that managers really shouldn’t want to deal with. For the employee, it makes them hesitant to speak up when their rights might be being violated.
Overall, it changes the way each entity communicates with the other. It may not necessarily breed contempt, as the old phrase goes, but for the most part it doesn’t breed respect either. People who know you too well will be less impressed by your accomplishments; it becomes expected of you from their perspective. But those who see you with a little distance will come to believe you have something valuable to offer.
Strange, but true.