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Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert who develops leaders. She and her firm Contagious Companies provide training, online course, and resources to build leadership skills. For more information go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com or call 1-866-382-0121

How much clarity can you provide to the lines so that everyone understands your role and their goal?

When promoted among your peers, there’s most definitely a transition period. There is also a transition period when an employee realizes that their boss may act like their best buddy, but provide the least amount of guidance and clarity. These two issues are our focus in this week’s Monday Moment (and one of our most popular online courses). More specifically, is it the goal of the boss to be a buddy? How does one go from buddy to boss and why are those that seem to buddy up to the employees so awful at giving directions, clarifying expectations, and developing future leaders? Yikes, those are a lot of questions and yet, the answers are not quite that complex and will help. Let’s start with defining some terms:

What is a “Buddy” Exactly?

A buddy is a pal. It’s a friend. Maybe it’s one who sticks with you through thick and thin or even the kind who stays around until the end. Either way, a buddy is something personal and while the lines of professional and personal can cross, when they do, there is often a cost. Employees who believe their boss is truly their buddy may find that status tested when performance slips. Bosses who attempt to be every employee’s buddy will find that stance hard to maintain when it comes time to delivering bad news on a pay based performance appraisal. Two things we know “Buddies” don’t do: mess with your paycheck and negatively impact you. However, leaders sometimes must exhibit or demonstrate both. A powerful leader, much as we’ve heard recently in US political debates, is not the one who always has the highest approval ratings. A powerful leader, who develops your skills, is not always the one who gives only good news and passes out hundred dollar bills. A boss who puts him or herself in this role or allows that role to be cajoled by employee’s is asking for problems and limiting everyone’s options.

What Does Going From Buddy to Boss Really Mean?

Being promoted does not preclude you from being friends with the team members you now lead, though some companies will frown upon this, indeed. Going from buddy to boss, however, does mean that the dynamics of a once collegial or lateral friendship may change or come to an end. The friendship, if it remains intact, takes on changes and boundaries and may even take a step back until both parties figure out how to manage that. If you’ve been promoted among those with whom you were recently friends, don’t look at it as something that has ended, but rather something that needs to grow. They can still be your friend and be willing to follow. You can still be their friend and willing to hang out and listen in on personal matters. It’s at work where lines will need to be drawn, lest both of you wish to end up in HR. It’s a process to make the transition and one for which an entire online course has been written. Check it out in fact: go to Transition from Buddy to Boss and sign up. Go ahead, this’ll wait. (the next offering of this online course is on September 8)

Why They Engage, but Prevent You from Being the “Get it Done” Machine?

Those so good at being your buddy, or acting as if that’s the case, are the same ones who struggle with following a linear step by step pace. Engaging people skills, that make this boss appear to be ‘friends’ with ALL, are the sign of a more abstract thinker and visionary. Their non-logical approach keeps them focused on shiny things, squirrels and the next great idea in a flurry. They’re not so good at being clear. Directions may begin to be shared, but then follow up details left startlingly unclear. This can make it difficult for most others to know the direction in which they should steer. Thus, though they’re fun to be around, they could frequently keep you from getting your own work done.

Don’t get me wrong, a boss who also is fun and wants to be your friend, is not, by any means the END of the world. They won’t always be the worst boss you’ve ever had or make your life a miserable situation to be in. The challenge comes in when those lines get crossed and roles are blurred to such an extent that you get deterred. Stay on track and consistently clarify. For example, ask questions like “Is this an at work conversation or one we need to have outside?” Ensure you understand what they mean by asking questions that help the specificity flow seamlessly.

If you’re a recently promoted boss or know those who are, the Transition from Buddy to Boss online course and webinar is the ideal solution to ensure they’ve been both prepared, AND promoted. To register for this course, simply go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com/LeadershipWebinarSchedule

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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