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Can a director be friends with his subordinates?

I became an entrepreneur at the age of 26, and a director – even earlier. I suffered a lot: no one was friends with me at work. And nowhere else because of my employment I did not have time to make friends.

There is a stereotype – the leader is not a human being and all human is alien to him or her! Being friends with a leader is always ambiguous. Some will think that you cozy up, others that you leak information, someone may accuse you of duplicity

After 20+ years of doing business I have a clear position about friendship at work, especially between the director and subordinates. Such friendship is permissible only if a number of conditions are met:
  • Everyone understands and admits that they do not discuss work matters with each other as part of a friendship. This does not rule out advice on work, but it certainly excludes talking about colleagues behind their backs, condemning or discussing the company's development strategy. This is not ethical and in the long run will harm both the company and the friends.
  • Friends make friends outside of workspaces. They don't go smoking together on a regular basis, they don't whisper "in the corners" of the office. Such behavior, put on public display, hits the reputation of the leader in the first place, but it also does not improve relations with others.
  • The leader never makes a friend a protege, but can tell a friend how to show up best.
  • MY FAVORITE POINT: the leader knows how to keep a distance at public events from those with whom he/she is friends: no familiarity, joint public drinking, etc. – it kills his/her leader reputation.

I choose supportive but distant communication. If I work with friends, then within the framework of business relations I will keep a distance – it allows me to see the process without mixing in emotions.

Directors often have difficulty respecting the personal boundaries of their friends-subordinates. The coaching approach helps to decide: you need to decompose everything into elements and put the emotional in one direction and the rational in the other! Alternately turning to one or the other, you can form a clear image of friendship at work!