FRIENDSHIP OR LEADERSHIP?
A quick assessment of traits of leaders, locally or globally, would bring to fore key multiple qualities, but one thing that would not be prevalent is the word “friendship”. Often, teams and stakeholders expect leaders to be friends but the focus of leadership is not friendship; the focus of leadership is influence. A leader must feel like a friend to all, yes, but the relevance of this association is to communicate the factor of likeability.
There are many things that leadership is not, although these things should be considered as a part of being a leader. Leadership is not a position or simply a title. It is not about age or personal attributes and in that same light, it not friendship. Leadership is about influencing others to maximize their efforts to achieve a specific goal. This can be done in several ways – the reason for different styles of effective leadership. One thing that is common with humanity is that you cannot be liked by everyone. It is no different with leadership, so it baffles me when it is expected that a leader is liked by all. In being an effective leader, you will not always be liked, but it would not mask your recognition and image as a leader.
A leader does not necessarily need to be your friend to get the work done. However, it is pertinent that the leader is able to influence followers, and that requires that he is liked, respected, knowledgeable and credible. Even though likeability is a factor of leadership, it is not a mandate for friendship. It is important that as we evolve in emotional intelligence and people intelligence among all the other quotients that create soft skills and emphasize its power in the workplace, this understanding becomes clearer.
Commonly, leaders are charged with the responsibility of knowing and understanding their people. Good leaders understand that it would take united efforts to achieve a common goal. For the company to thrive as a single body, individuals must thrive also. In the process of gaining an in-depth understanding of your followers, you will need to be likeable and friendly. This influences some calm and trust and allows for an open and honest process to ensue. Unfortunately, it is common to see that most people take for granted leaders who are friendly and down to earth. As a leader, you are not obliged to be friends with the people you engage. It is up to you to find a balance – be open and friendly without being take for granted.
Another trait or skill that a leader must hone is the ability to communicate effectively in a human way. The ability to communicate on all levels, exchanging verbal and nonverbal information demands that you are approachable and easy to speak to. Then again, the factor of likeability comes in. There is a way to be a combination of civil, respectful, honest, and approachable without leaving room for people to disrespect you simply because you are nice to them. To communicate in a human way, it is usually required that you lead with your heart first before logic. Research has proven that people respond to emotions first before logic.
In the same manner in which we would like to be respected, we owe it to our people to behave appropriately by commanding power and authority without abusing it. As leaders, we are called to be accountable as we expect others to do same. We should not abuse the fact that we are liked by being controlling or seeking inappropriate favors because our title. In fact, because of how much power and authority we yield, we must be the rightful representation of what the business and brand stand for. We must be examples by practising what we preach. It is through our honesty in conversations that we nurture sustainable relationships from regular conversations. Offering value to the people who look up to us should not just be a routine. It must be the heart and soul of our person and brand.
There are many ways to define a leader but friendship is not one of them. There is a demand on leaders to be likeable and emotionally intelligent but there is also a demand on them to be respected and have integrity to be able to be influential. So, we must get to a stage where a leader can infuse empathy and fairness in their strength. They must be able to make decisions that are sometimes very hard, speak truth to power when its needed but be respected and liked by people around them. Are you ready to be such a leader?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.