Be the boss, not a friend

January 18, 2011: 10:55 AM ET

As a manager, all your relationships should be bounded and defined. They're not about liking, chemistry, or personality. Relationships that are personal can only produce disappointment in the long run.

By Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback

Why is it that so many managers fail to live up to their full potential? After making it to management, many end up losing steam along the way, drowning in endless meetings and emails while trying to manage up, down and influence their peers. Feeling discouraged, most grow complacent. The following excerpt from Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback addresses the all too common problem when managers become friends with their direct reports.

Do you consider your direct reports your friends? Perhaps you're driven by a deep need to be liked. Your first instinct in any interaction is to build close, personal relationships, and you will do almost anything to protect them. One new manager said he had to "fight the burning desire to be accommodating . . . so that [my people] would like me." To confuse being liked with being trusted or respected is a classic trap for all managers.

Perhaps you hate conflict. You avoid doing or saying anything that might cause tension or upset others. When strife of any kind arises, you leap to remove it or tamp it down. As another manager discovered about himself: "I don't react well in conflict situations. I back off. It really hurts me to have people get mad at me." Perhaps you're simply uncomfortable with the idea of disrupting others' lives. This aspect of being a boss unsettles many managers. More

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