Are You Too Nice?

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Can a leader be too nice?

Are you trying to be so nice and friendly with your team that you are actually hurting your perceptions of leadership effectiveness with them and probably not achieving anywhere near what you could be with your team?

The reality is many frontline leaders struggle with how friendly they should be with their team. 

Should you be best buddies and head out for drinks after work every day? Certainly, some leaders do that, and they can do so without compromising performance, but many leaders find it a struggle when they have to complete boss, management, or leader activities with a person who is also close friends with them. Of course, when everything is going well, it’s probably not a big issue. Where the true test lies is when you have to deliver negative news.

Here are a few tips to help you manage this issue of how friendly you should be. 

First, be friendly, but not friends. I think most leaders find, especially as you go to higher levels of leadership positions, that it’s harder to maintain those close friendships with the people you are responsible for. Usually, that is because situations will emerge in your organization or your company where you have to do some tough things like administer progressive discipline or maybe go through downsizing or restructuring. That can be tough when you are actually friends with the people you have to talk to about those difficult decisions and situations.

Being super friendly with your team has its downsides. Share on X

The other tip I have is to be aware of avoidance. The true test of whether your friendship is impacting your leadership is whether you actually find yourself standing there thinking, “I don’t want to have this talk with so-and-so because we’re good buddies, and we have a fishing trip coming up on the weekend.” When you catch yourself as a leader starting to decide to put things off instead of confronting them with your team, that is probably a sign your friendship is impacting your leadership ability. Remember, your primary job, the job that you get paid for is being a leader.

friendly leader with team member

The final tip I have is to be firm, fair and consistent. If your team knows what to expect from you, whether they are friends with you or not, they will see you as the kind of leader that is always consistent. In other words, every time something happens, you tend to respond in a way they would expect. Some leaders pride themselves on keeping people guessing how they might respond, but just think about how difficult that is as a human being when you don’t know what kind of reaction you are going to get from your leader.

Keep these points in mind so you too can balance this issue of friendship and leadership.