How Do You Balance Friendly Relationships With Your Team Members With Your Leading Role?

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How do you balance friendly relationships with your team members with your leading role?

Sometimes these two roles can be in conflict and can influence work results and team spirit.

For example, have you been in situations where you were in good terms with a team member and the relationship was easy, but you realized that you needed to tell him something about his work that might upset him and harm the relationship? Maybe sometimes you overlooked certain things just to keep the relationship as it is and later noticed that those things have been repeated and that it’s absolutely necessary to talk about them.

Or have you been in situations in which things were not done in time because you spent too much time discussing personal things or that were not related directly to the tasks that you should have discussed?

And, have you often been in situations in which you were so focused on the team goals and you planned everything with them, but you didn’t take the time to see how they are, if they need support, if they have challenges, or what their morale state is? They might think that you only care about achieving the goals and not about them too. This will decrease their engagement and motivation. 

Let’s look at some ways in which you can balance these two roles:

Keep the work standards consistently, without making exceptions. Once the team members understood what is required from them and that you’ll not allow or accept less than that, they will take them seriously. If sometimes you address a certain issue and sometimes you don’t, they may think that is not so important for you, that you favour certain people, or that they can influence you due to your friendship with them. None of these scenarios will bring you their respect nor the results that you want.

When personal discussions tend to be too long redirect them to the work tasks that have to be accomplish.

Relationships are built in the working process too – when they have the leader’s trust, when they receive support when they need it, if they can develop in the directions that they want, when they receive appreciation for their work, when they feel safe to talk openly without the fear that they will lose something if they are honest.

One way to show that you care about them is to create a safe space for them. Resolve the tensions, the conflicts or the disagreements within the team members, check out their morale state from time to time. These may consume a lot of their energy and attention. If the team members are not united, if they sabotage each other, or they don’t think that they can accomplish certain things, they will not perform well no matter how good are the plans you made with them.

Create opportunities for informal discussions as intentionally as you create opportunities for formal discussions. For example, create recreative spaces or lunch space where you can interact in a more relaxed way with team members, and where they can interact with each other too. Or bring them together at a festive lunch every now and then, or at team building events.

Friendly relationships with team members goes under the umbrella of consideration behaviour of a leader

Friendly relationships with team members goes under the umbrella of the consideration function of a leader. According to early studies on leaders behaviours – Ohio State Leadership Studies – a leader has two major functions or roles:

  1. Consideration (People orientated) – The extent in which the leader is approachable and shows care for the team members. He / She’s seen as friendly, impartial and protective with the team members.

  2. Structuring (Task orientated) – The extent in which the leader focus on achieving the team’s goals. He / She emphasizes standard procedures, work scheduling and the distribution of people by activities.

Some leaders can have better skills to structure the team activity than to build a cohesive team, and others can be great at both. How would you appreciate your own skills in these two roles?

These two functions have a major impact on the employee satisfaction and performances. In some situations consideration is more appreciated and brings satisfaction and increases performances, and  in other situations the structuring function is more important and increases the employees’ satisfaction and performances.

WHEN the employees are under the deadlines pressures, they don’t know how to do their tasks, or there are external threats, they appreciate the structuring function more.

WHEN the work goals and methods are very clear, the employees appreciate the consideration function more. They don’t need to receive guidelines or indications because they already know what to do. In fact, they can become dissatisfied when they receive guidelines when they don’t need them. 

WHEN the activities that an employee performs gives him/her intrinsic motivation, the needs for structuring and consideration are not so important. For example, if a programmer likes the project on which he’s working, he doesn’t need constant attention or encouragements from his leader to advance in his project. Even if he doesn’t always know how to do something, he is motivated enough to look for answers and solutions. 

Situational Leadership Model

Among the theories that have studied when these two behaviours are appropriate is the Situational Leadership Model developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard. 

The premise of this theory is that different situations require different ways of leadership.

In this leadership model are four types of leadership styles:

  1. Directing
  2. Coaching
  3. Supporting
  4. Delegating

These styles are generated by different combination of two main behaviours of the leader:


Directive behaviour (similar with structuring) – consists in setting the objectives, the evaluation methods, the time limits, defining the roles and establishing the ways in which the set objectives can be achieved. In this case, the communication is one way, from the leader to the employees.


Supportive behaviour (similar to consideration) – the leader supports the team members to adapt to the situations in which they find themselves, to integrate themselves in the working group, including in the relationship with him


Directing leadership style – the leader has a high directive behaviour and a low supportive behaviour. The leader sets the objectives, the evaluation methods, the deadlines, defines the roles and demonstrates the ways in which the objectives can be achieved. Communication is in one direction.


Coaching style – the leader is highly directive – highly supportive. The communication aims both to achieve the objectives and to satisfy the socio-emotional needs of the employees.


 Supporting style – the leader is highly supportive – low directive. The tendency is to achieve an implicit communication, show empathy, provide feedback, focusing on listening and professional development of the team members.


Delegating style – the leader is low supportive – low directive. The leader gives to the employees the responsibility for accomplishing the tasks and for developing a positive environment too. Communication is limited quantitatively but also qualitatively.

These leadership styles can be applied at the same time, to different employees, depending on their particular development levels.


The enthusiastic beginner – low competence & high commitment. The most adequate leadership style is S1, the directing style.

The employee can be a young new employee, who is happy to work in the company, is happy with his job responsibilities and wants to do well in his job, but because he doesn’t have much experience, and faces many situations that are new to him, he fails to get good results.

With a directing style, the leader can help the employee to achieve better results, telling him what to do and how to do his activities. Thus, the employee can gain the necessary knowledge and practice to perform well. This will also avoid wasting time and efforts.


The disillusioned learner – some competence & low commitment. The most adequate style is S2, the coaching style.

After the enthusiastic phase, if the employee doesn’t receive the help that he needs, he may begin to feel disappointed by the fact that he has poor results and his commitment level will go down. He needs to be guided to know what to do and how to do things, and also he’ll need emotional support, to gain confidence that he is capable to accomplish his tasks.


The capable but cautious performer – high competence & variable commitment. The supportive style, S3, is adequate.

This can be the case of an employee who is experienced and has the necessary competence, but because he’s is in a new situation, or has a new task, he acts cautions not to make any mistake. He needs encouragements from his leader to gain confidence. He may delay some things to over check them, may hesitate to go to the next step until he knows exactly what’s going to happen etc.

Or it may be the situation of an employee who had a recent failure and is afraid not to repeat it, even though before that he had numerous successes. That failure could have been caused by external causes, which he could not control, or by factors that are no longer a problem.


The self-reliant achiever – high competence & high commitment. The most adequate leadership style is the delegating one, S4.

In this phase, the employee has high competence and high commitment, so there is no need for the leader to involve too much in his work. He knows what to do, how to do it, and till when. Any unneeded involvement will just bother him.

Do you adapt your leadership style to the development level of each employee?

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Want to have more resources and tools to leverage your leadership skills?

How To Motivate Your Employees So They Care For Your Business And Help You Grow It
HAS YOUR BACK. It covers that along with other key aspects of employees’ motivation.