by Michael Holland    

Advancing in an organization provides fantastic opportunities for you to leverage your loyalty and relationships.  Some of these relationships may have been forged before you were a manager.  A difficult challenge for most leaders is developing a clear demarcation line with regard to friendships and the leader’s authority role especially when managing former peers.  Where each of us draws the line is based on our leadership wisdom, perception of self-worth, confidence in our role, personal style and, potentially, our moral barometer.

You are – or will be – the manager of previous co-workers, peers and current friends, which can put you in delicate situations.  While it’s easier in the short term to lead from a position where you are “liked” and are best friends with your former peers or subordinates, truly effective, wise leaders have learned that the tough decisions and conversations are best handled from an objective vantage point.  A leader who is biased in decision-making or in disciplinary action over concern for how he will be perceived will make weak decisions.  Weak decisions breed low respect from employees.

It’s critical to balance your approachability with the clear mandate that you maintain authority in your role.  The art of leadership lies in your ability to maintain authority, respect, and effective decision-making, while building trustworthy relationships with your employees.

Ask Yourself:  Where do you stand today with each of your employees?  Are you more their friend or more their leader?  How will you adjust the relationship?