Can Bosses Be Friends?

Even above board relationships in the work place can be tricky. (Yes, I watch too many B-shows and movies.)

Be the boss, not a friend, published at Fortune/, is an excerpt from Linda Hill and Kent Lineback’s book, Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback and suggests why seeking friendship from workers, or simply trying to be liked, isn’t in the best interests of a productive work relationship.Noting that the relationship between boss and worker “exists to accomplish work,” they offer several reasons why seeking friendship with workers is a bad idea.

All of the reasons come down to the basic issue: managers are responsible for achieving certain results. If those results are not achieved, managers need to counsel workers, put them on probation, and possibly even lay them off. But that’s not easy if the manager and the worker are friends.They also note that, if managers are friends with their staff, they’re likely to be closer friends with some workers than others, only adding to tensions in the workplace.To be honest, this article reminded me of one of my favorite topics from the old Ricki Lake show, “You used to be my friend, now you’re my boss,” which explored the transition from friends to manager and worker (albeit in a purposefully combative way).

Hill and Linebeck conclude that:

In a word, the boss–subordinate relationship is another paradox, one of the most profound you will encounter as a boss. It’s a paradox because it must be genuinely human and caring—even close.

Check out the article at


About idmodelsandprocesses

Exploring, reporting, teaching, and advising on learning and communication for the workplace and consumers.
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