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Can you be a boss & a friend?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “I’m not sure how to handle my new supervisory position. Before being promoted, I was friends with my former co-workers, so I’m finding it difficult to tell them what to do.  I love being a supervisor, but it’s hard to be as tough as my superiors want me to be. In a perfect world, I would like to be both a boss and a friend. However, I’m beginning to realize that to get things done, I need to be less of a friend and more of a boss. I know I have to demonstrate leadership, but I’m afraid this will turn me into an unlikeable person. After all, does anyone really like their boss?” — Nice Guy

Marie’s Answer: To you, “boss” apparently means someone who is autocratic and unpleasant. Perhaps that has been your unfortunate experience. However, many people actually admire their managers and enjoy working with them.

Nevertheless, you are correct in thinking that you and your former peers can no longer be friends in the same way. The fact that you will now be doing their performance reviews has completely redefined that relationship.  Like every new supervisor, you must learn how to comfortably relate to people from a position of power.


For help in navigating this transition, look for books, workshops, or online resources that provide lessons in leadership. Seek out effective managers and use them as role models. You will soon come to realize that your goal is not to be liked, but to be respected.

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