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Leadership Success: Earning Respect or Friends

Parents often fail today because they focus on being their child’s BFF (Best Friend Forever, if you speak “youth”). Some of these parents are afraid their children won’t like them if they hold them accountable for their actions. SO, these kids grow up with no accountability and often head to college and the workforce with no idea what it means to be accountable for their actions.

Enter the workplace and the leader. Sure, some may say that holding people accountable is imperative in the large corporation, but in the small business, it’s more important to make people happy. Reality check time! People are happy when they know that someone is supervising them, appreciating their work, and holding them accountable for maintaining standards.

Folks have access to social media. They can have 2-4 real friends and hundreds of folks they “friend” on Facebook or link to on LinkedIn. Regardless of how close these social media friendships are, they do NOT need to be friends with the leader nor should the leader be friends with them. Effective leader – keep your distance. Followers want leaders they can respect. They can find “friends” any number of places, but effective leaders who hold them accountable are far rarer – and far more respected.

It is very difficult to hold someone accountable in the workplace after spending an evening of drinking on Friday night. It’s difficult to hold someone accountable when you spend Sunday afternoon in their backyard enjoying a barbeque at their expense. And, it’s especially difficult to hold someone accountable after you engaged in a romantic tryst.

In the end, the question is simple: Would you rather have an employee be friendly or respect you as a leader? The answer should be simple, too: You want to earn their respect by setting reasonable standards and holding them accountable for meeting or exceeding those standards. In this way, the effective leader can be his or her own BFF.