Friday, September 16, 2016

the importance of friendship...for leaders

Much has been written about friendships and how to care for them over time.  As I was leaving dinner last evening with a friend (and our significant others) it struck me how important that relationship was for me, in so many ways.  This is not a life-long friend...this is not a person whom I see every week...this is not someone to whom I pour out my heart and soul.  This is someone I have known for about 7 years, someone I became acquainted with through a professional relationship, someone with whom I have a lot in common, someone who sees the world in a similar vein, and someone who is one of my biggest fans (and I believe the same about him). So why is this type of friendship important for leaders?  Consider these reasons:

  • It's good to have someone to talk to to just talk agenda, no transactions, no having to put on a show
  • Everyone (especially those in leadership roles) needs a few raving fans in their lives
  • Sometimes it is good to leave the workplace at the end of the day and just kick back over dinner and/or a drink with someone who does not know everything about you
  • Hearing stories from someone else's workplace provides a different and refreshing experience...and you never know what you can actually learn from a friend
  • It is good for one's heart to laugh and tell stories with someone like this
  • These are often really smart and really caring people - who doesn't want a few more of those types of friends with whom to hang out?
Now comes the hard part - maintaining those friendships over time.  People in leadership roles meet all kinds of people over time, with many becoming acquaintances and few becoming friends.  Keeping the friendship fires burning is never easy due to busy schedules and hectic lives.  So what can those in leadership roles do to stay in touch with friends?  Here are a few thoughts:
  • Schedule your time with them...and following a meeting, put on your calendar when you plan to reach out to them again
  • Don't wait for them to reach out to you - nothing means more to a friend than getting a request to meet
  • When a friend's name crosses your mind, immediately put it in your calendar to reach out to them soon
  • Just like Goldilocks, don't meet too often and don't meet not often enough
  • Don't be afraid to ask for favors - friend like helping friends
  • Invite them to share other portions of your life, whether that be attending events or meeting your family from time to time
  • Don't be afraid to share them with your other friends - introducing them to other great people deepens the friendship
  • Be vulnerable - sharing your joys, concerns, and disappointments invites them to deepen the friendship over time
  • Thank them for being a friend and for taking the time out of their lives to guess is that in this type of relationship, everyone wins!
So...who do you need to contact today to renew and refresh a friendship?  Go ahead, call them now or send them an email.  You'll (and they'll) be glad you did.