10 reasons why you should be friends with your staff

reasons why you should be friends with your staff
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Why you should be friends with your staff

One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my leadership journey was thinking I couldn’t be friends with my staff.

I was told “you can’t be too friendly with your people or they’ll take advantage of you” along with “you need to let them know where they stand”, oh and this one “your team need to know who’s boss, you can’t cross that line”.

All this advice meant the relationships I had taken months to form with my then-peers dissolved the minute I stepped into my team leader role.

I cut myself off from the very people who could have supported me through a very tough, lonely transition into leadership.

I have since, successfully, lead teams where I have formed very solid friendships with my staff and delivered some terrific results.

I don’t buy into the idea that you can’t be friends with your staff, in fact, quite the opposite.

10 reasons why you absolutely should be friends with your staff:

  1. Friends help you feel connected, like you are part of something.
  2. Friends care about you and if you care about the work you do, so will they!
  3. Friends want you to succeed.
  4. Friends have a deeper level of trust in you and vice versa.
  5. Friends have better conversations.
  6. Friends have fun…and…we all know that time flies when you’re having fun!
  7. Friends support you, particularly when you’re going through a tough time.
  8. Friends help you expand your way of thinking by offering a different perspective or sharing different experiences.
  9. Friends challenge you. A good friend won’t buy into your bullshit, they’ll keep you thinking clear and focused on the bigger picture.
  10. Friends, real friends don’t take advantage of you! Karin Sieger, psychotherapist, says true friendships “are based on unconditional concern for the other. We do things for the other out of friendship not in order to gain anything.” If you have people in your life that take advantage of you, perhaps now is a good time to stop calling them a friend!

According to this Huffington Post article, philosopher Alain de Botton says “we used to need friends for survival…now they are there to support us…the job has turned from physical to psychological.”

I have yet to find a valid reason not to be friends with your staff.

If you struggle to hold people accountable, when you’re emotionally invested, then work on getting better at having conversations – don’t use it as a reason not to be their friend.

Some of my greatest friends are people I’ve worked with and people I’ve experienced high highs and low low’s with.

They are people who have called me on my bullshit when I’ve been wallowing in self-pity and told me off when I’ve done the wrong thing.

Leadership can often be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t need to be!

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Shelley Flett
About Shelley Flett 1 Article

Shelley Flett is an expert in leadership development and team performance.


With a background in Operations and Call Centre’s across banking and telecommunications, she believes the core components of good leadership involve investing in relationships, inspiring respect and influencing results.

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