The Scary Reality of Being a Leader

The Scary Reality of Being a Leader

What happens when you become the leader?

If you are new to management or supervision you know the scary reality of being a leader. Often times we start out as one of the guys, or girls, on the floor working with everybody. Then one day we get chosen to move into a leadership role and everything changes.

It is difficult making the transition from being part of the group to being the leader of the group. All of a sudden all your peer relationships change. Can you still be friends with your coworkers? Is it appropriate to hang out with coworkers outside of work? How do you gain their respect and trust now that you are their supervisor?

There is no one answer that will fit every situation. It depends on you as an individual and your circumstance within your job.

Can you still be friends with coworker?

Absolutely, as long as your friends realize that your relationship has changed and they respect that. But you need to keep clear lines of delineation between work and friendships. Never allow friends to cloud your judgement. If they don’t respect your new role then maybe you need to evaluate those relationships. Don’t allow a friendship to compromise your integrity.

Make sure your friends understand that as a supervisor you will treat everybody with respect and dignity. Do not allow yourself to get into situations that could lead to complaints of favoritism. As long as you hold everyone accountable to the same degree, following and enforcing company rules and policies consistently, you can maintain friendships with a clear conscious.

People will always try to claim that you are playing favorites. If after thoughtful introspection you find there is merit to those complaints then make changes to how you manage those relationships, if you’re not, don’t lose any sleep over it. No matter how fairly you treat people there are going to be those who find fault with what you do. Act consistently and with integrity and the majority of your direct reports will come to trust you as a leader. Don’t sweat the small minority who you will never win over.

Is it appropriate to hang out with coworkers outside of work?

Caution is needed when you become a supervisor as to how you choose to socialize with coworkers outside of work. If you have a long-standing relationship with a coworker it becomes even more tricky. If the associates you hang out with outside of work are true friends you will not have any problems. This can some times be a painful transition as you begin to see who your true friends really are.

Number one rule is do not discuss work related issues outside of work that are directly related to your area of responsibility. It is alright to discuss some problem if you’re trying to work out a solution, or if they are simply seeking clarification. But stay away from office gossip or giving an ear to complaining about other coworkers. Under no circumstance should you divulge information related to the performance or handling of other workers. Conversations that happen outside of work have a tendency to come back into the work place and they can make your work life difficult.

Bottom line, I avoid situations that could lead to accusations of impropriety. I personally do not hang out with subordinates outside of work. I will on occasion meet socially with a fellow manager where there can be no concern that my position as a manager is being manipulated.

Now that I am a supervisor how do I maintain the respect of friends and former coworker?

Number one, don’t worry so much about what other people think. Treat everyone with respect, fairly, and with dignity. Act consistent with the company mission and toward company goals. As long as you act with integrity in everything you do you will maintain the respect of the majority of your direct reports. Do what is right. There will always be critics. You will lose some friends, who weren’t really friends. But at the end of the day you need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I did the right things for the right reasons”.

Support all your people to the same degree. Give them the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. And always treat everyone fairly with dignity and respect. If you do these things you will gain the trust and respect of your people. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.

Becoming a manager or supervisor is challenging. It changes a lot of your work developing relationships and it forces you out of your comfort zone. Nothing worth doing is easy. Being a leader in an organization is demanding, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Don’t let other people dictate how you will act. Be fair, consistent, and act with integrity in all your relationships. Don’t forget to also be kind and forgiving to yourself. It gets easier.

Please leave a comment. And if you have any question about this post or would like to see post on other subjects let me know. I am here to serve you. Peace.

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