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Some Supervisors find it challenging to lead former coworkers or employees who are also their friends. Here are three tips to help be an effective leader when dealing with friendship and leadership.
#1 Establish Boundaries
It is important for leaders to establish boundaries with friends and former coworkers by letting them know that at work, the focus is on leadership responsibilities. Many leaders find it a challenge to maintain the same level of friendships. True friends will understand and wouldn’t ask for special treatment that could put the Supervisor’s position at risk.
#2 Avoid Playing Favorites
Favoritism can impact results and cause resentment by other coworkers. Team members could be on the lookout for any perceived favoritism being shown by the leader, so leaders need to make sure they spread time and attention across the work group. Leaders who have breaks at the same time as their team, should avoid spending time with the same few people, otherwise some people could feel excluded. Keeping everyone on the team in the loop with open communication and making sure that job assignments are distributed fairly will avoid the perception that there is favoritism.
#3 Communicate the Consequences
Team members might not think through the consequences of their requests for their preferential work assignments or breaks. Leaders need to explain to the team member that their request could cause resentment and jealousy with coworkers. It might even be seen by management as a performance problem and that could cause both the employee and the leader to receive corrective consequences. An effective leader should be friendly and approachable and at the same time recognize that the leadership role is a priority over pre-existing relationships. Team members want a leader, not a buddy at work.
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