Posted on Jan 20, 2015
SSG(P) Small Group Leader
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Has anybody had any issues where they ended up being too much of a friend to a subordinate and it ended up biting them in the butt later on, i.e.; with counseling's, mentorship? How did you recover and how do you handle subordinates now? How thin is the line between being "friendly" and being a "friend?" Where should you draw the line?
Posted in these groups: 141102-z-il062-067 Military bearing
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COL Jason Smallfield, PMP, CFM, CM
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Some thoughts:
- Difference between being friendly vs being a friend is similar to being a parent. A parent should have a good relationship with their child but should never be their child's "buddy".
- The line between the two has a few different warning sign indicators such as: using each other's first name (ever), spending time off duty together outside of official unit events, and favoritism either way on the job.
- Being friendly can include such authorized items/events such as Right Arm Night and inquiring about what is going on with the subordinate's personal life.
- I do not believe the line between being friendly and being a friend is all that thin. See below.
- The line is where a professional relationship is no longer conducted in a professional manner.
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SFC Operations Nco
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great answer, Sir. But then again, I have come to expect nothing less than greatness from Engineers.
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SMSgt Minister Gerald A. "Doc" Thomas
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I've learned at the beginning of my career that you can always be friendly but cannot be friends with your subordinates because they will not follow you when you correct them because they're feelings are hurt.
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SFC Operations Nco
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That is a pitfall that probably every leader has either been affect by or been close to it.

To get out of that pitfall, as soon as you realize it, sit down with the subordinate and give it to them straight. If they respect you, they'll understand.

The hardest, that I have found, is being peers with someone and then getting promoted and becoming their leader. You will have to distance yourself off duty and remain authoritative on duty. You can still be friendly and authoritative. Ignore any negative comments or sentiments like "he got promoted and it went to his head" or "he forgot where he came from." Focus on the mission and your role in it and you should be fine.

Remember, a frank conversation can take care of a lot of problems.

Great question, by the way
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SSG(P) Small Group Leader
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Great response, I appreciate it.
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