Balancing Leadership and Friendship

Balancing Leadership and Friendship

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Have you ever had to choose between being a good leader and being a good friend? It is not an uncommon choice for student leaders to face. The following is a breaks down why this happens and what you can do to counteract it.

Being the Boss Sucks

There is a reason people complain about the boss. No one likes being reminded of their responsibilities, whether it something as simple as requesting a status report or as controversial as holding someone accountable. Professional managers are keenly aware of this and know their job will force them to do some unlikable things. That is why they build their working relationships around mutual respect rather than friendship. This respect allows them to continue to work with people, even after the required bossiness gets annoying.

Student Leaders’ Dilemma

Student leaders are in an impossible position. You are trying to organize those around you like a professional manager.  However, unlike professional managers, you do not have a working relationship specially designed to hold up under pressure. Your relationships are based on friendship, common interests, and shared values. These are wonderful connections to have, but they are not an ideal foundation for a productive working relationship. You will be forced to balance the unlikable tasks required by your position with the stress your relationships can handle. Strike the wrong balance and do a bad job in your role, ruin your personal relationships, or both.

The Silver Lining

Your personal relationships can become your secret weapon. Unlike professional managers, who keep those they work with at a distance, you can be very personal. Use your connections to make the experience better for everyone. If you know the quirks of someone’s schedule, like their fondness for sleeping late or what times they typically spend with their significant other, work around it. A bit of thoughtfulness can ease the burden that working together puts on your relationship.

Working with friends can be fun and rewarding. It can make the wins even more exciting and soften the losses. It is possible to have it all if you go into it knowing the risks.

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