Leaders in small businesses often get caught up in the balancing act of which side of the Line they are on between being friends with the staff and being their manager. I see this as a very real challenge to many which often will undermine someones effectiveness as a good or great leader.
What to do. First recognize you cant be all things to all people. Great leader managers need to focus on 3 key areas.
1. Staff need to know you are committed to excellence in the workplace
2. You are going to be fair (not best friends) with them. A good listener and mentor.
3. You are going to care about them.
While its not taboo to develop real friendships with your team, dont fall into the rookie trap of wanting to be liked so much that you sacrifice your leadership integrity. This will back fire on you.
Earn people’s respect don’t ask or buy it. Make your role and relationship expectations are clear up front. This will also help frame out your position. In small businesses this is a very practical approach due to the size of the organization. Keep in mind the above three keys and you are on your way.