Can I be friends with my team if I’m the boss?

I get told over and over that the leader can’t be friends with their team. That they can’t address poor behaviour or make the hard calls if they have a drink with their staff outside of the office.

I recognise that some situations can be quite tricky. But as a leader it is vital that you have a good relationship with your team members.

Because the problems of our team members become our own; that is they impact on how our team performs.

We need to know what is going on with all the members of our team. We need to have a relationship with them.

This takes time. Lots of time. You can’t rush relationships. Saying hello in the morning and goodbye at the end of the day is not a relationship.

Those relationships are crucial when we have to give feedback.

It’s much easier to tell someone that there is a problem if you have a relationship with them. You will know how to start that conversation; you will be in a better position to manage that situation. You will be able to provide empathy because you will have some understanding as to what is going on in their life that might impacting on their performance at work.

Get to know your team. Break bread together. Take an interest in their personal life. Know what football team they barrack for. Your not a robot – you’re their leader.

Do you owe your team an apology?

Being a leader is probably one of the hardest roles a person can have.

It comes with so much responsibility.

We are constantly challenged, tested, confronted. We witness behaviour that is not okay. We see mistakes being made. We have a responsibility to deal with it.

What message are we giving our team if we tolerate poor behaviour such as letting a staff member talk down to someone else; take credit for someone else’s work or totally dominating a meeting?

How can we say that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated in our office, if we in fact let bullying behaviour go unchecked?

What are the consequences of letting bad behaviour go unchecked?

Firstly, we lose the respect of our team.

Secondly, other staff take matters into their own hands. They find ways to punish the perpetrators; they go slow, they work to rule or less. They gossip.

Thirdly, our staff will stop telling us that there is a problem because really, what’s the point?

Fourthly, we will lose our best staff because they recognise that this is not a safe workplace.

Finally, our staff say bad things about us and our company behind our backs; to members of the public outside of the organisation.

So you probably owe your team an apology if your management style has lapsed into not setting boundaries, not addressing issues when they arise, not being a leader and taking responsibility for the behaviour in your team.

More information, please

The other day I was on a plane to Melbourne.  We were off to see our grandchildren and in particular our mission was to indoctrinate them into the Port Power family.

The weather was terrible. There had been storms overnight and it was very windy.  The flight was slightly delayed.  A young man near the front of the plane and just across from me kept asking the flight attendant questions. He was clearly agitated.

The flight attendant was fantastic. She stopped and listened to him. She provided him a lot of information about why the flight was delayed. She explained how planes take off in windy conditions and how they would manage the landing in Melbourne.

She checked in on him a few times during the flight. I could see that he kept checking on where she was. She was the person who was going to ensure that this was a safe experience for him.

She was never dismissive or condescending. She was respectful and calm. This young man took up quite a lot of her attention throughout the flight; but she didn’t at any stage act as though that was a problem or that he was being annoying.

I was so impressed. She had lots of jobs to do and other people to care for. But she understood that for this young man to cope on what was potentially going to be a rocky flight, that she needed to be a rock for him.

It’s interesting to ponder on what might have been the case if she had been dismissive or condescending; or if she had told him that she didn’t have time for him.

He may have acted out. Been rude or aggressive. Potentially there may have been a scene if there had been a lot of turbulence.

The flight attendant read the situation brilliantly. She understood that this young man was scared and when people are scared they need a lot of information. It helps them process the situation.

The flight attendant showed brilliant leadership on that flight and it was a joy to watch.