Keep It to Yourself

You know those parents who say they want to be their children’s “best friends”?

You know the ones I’m talking about. Those obnoxious moms and pops with six-pack abs and designer jeans who have fun smoking pot with their kids and passing them candy-flavored condoms.

Well, I’m not going to make fun of them today. I’m going to make fun of business owners who essentially do the same thing.

I’m talking about executives who act like Steve Carell in “The Office” — the ones who believe that being a good leader starts and ends with making their employees like them.

I have only one employee — and I do admit that I want her to like me. But I do my damndest to keep that urge out of my head when I’m interacting with her. My job is not to make her happy. I’m the boss! It’s her job to make me happy!

Yes, you should be fair and pleasant with the people who work for you. But you do neither yourself nor them a favor by treating them like your buddies.

In particular, don’t do any of the following:

  • “Share” your personal problems with them
  • Try to solve their personal problems
  • Get involved in personal disputes between them
  • Try to cheer them up when they are feeling down

You are in business for one purpose: to provide value to your customers. If you focus on that and encourage your employees to do the same, you’ll enjoy a pleasant business relationship with them. And that, really, is what you both want.