Friends or Followers: Where does a good leader draw the line?

leader is a friend or a follower

Giving bad news is way worse than receiving it. Now imagine when you have to break it to your team, who may also happen to be close friends. Leadership styles vary according to our personality and preferences, but one dilemma a good leader has is “How am I going to treat my team, as members or mates?”

It’s great to lead a team where everyone gets along. The environment is friendly, the chatter is lively and the vibrations are positive, but when everybody is busy having a good time, who exactly is doing the work?

When you begin to notice work piling up, requests for extensions, and a general sense of lethargy, step back and reflect. Were you being too lenient? Did you not give them the correct instructions? Or is your team getting a little too comfortable to actually perform?

You must understand that it is hard to recover from such a situation. So in order to avoid it, here are a few things you can do:

Get to know one another

If you have always been easy-going or outspoken then don’t let your role curdle your personality. The same is applicable if you are an introvert by nature, you don’t have to be loud in order to take charge. Be honest, because there is only so far you can go pretending to be someone else. This will also encourage your team to be themselves and work comfortably with each other.

Establish expectations

It is vital that your team is clear about what you expect from them and vice-versa. Once this has been established it becomes easier for you to interact with your team. And whether the day is good and bad, you and your team will have a better understanding of how to work together. Also, ensure that your team never stops growing. Giving them tasks that they are familiar with might make them lazy. Guide and challenge them, as there is no better form of admiration than trust. It might seem hard to handle at first, but stick to it and you and your team will end up with more than you expected.

We’re only human

We’re bound to pick sides and have favorites. Your team may consist of people you have come a long way with or those who have similar tastes in books, films and ideas.

This may make you closer to some of your teammates than others. However, these relationships should not cloud your judgment when it comes to making fair deacons.

Use your leadership skills to reward and reprimand accordingly. It may seem a little hard in the beginning, but all it takes is handling one such case, to establish the kind of leader you are.

Communications skills

Apart from your daily dose of business talk, you are going to find yourself in conversations of different kinds. It can be petty gossip, a full-blown argument or even a nervous breakdown.

A good leader tries to remain calm and composed at all times. He understands which interaction might not be the best use of your time. Having said this, good leadership qualities also make it easy for your team to find you approachable.

A quick pep talk or pat on the back can do wonders for morale and you should always be prepared with one.

Feedback to move forward

Many of us have found reviewing, assessing and critiquing to be great challenges in tour management careers.

You can only imagine the pressure when we are required to do the same with our team.

Avoid misunderstanding by making the assessment process a time-management interaction from the start. Both you and your team should keep to-do lists for the day, make a monthly plan or even assign a central spot with a compilation of all the work that has been delivered. This is a great way for everyone to keep tabs on themselves and the rest of the team.

It’s more important for you to like working with your team rather than just liking them. This will not only help build relationships but will also help your team grow into productive and skilled employees. At the end of the day, everyone wants to work in an environment where quality and respect are the core values. A chat over coffee or a team celebration dinner is a great way to get to know your team. But when it comes to good management skills – information, accountability and responsibility should be the central focus for you and your team.


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