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It’s a basic skill of life: Developing relationships and building bonds. Going beyond the basic ability to establish a relationship is the art of picking what kind of relationships you wish to establish. As a leader, there are numerous ways to depict yourself in the workplace; each with different responses from employees and each with its ups and downs. Rather than state what kind of relationship you should establish, this article aims to give you the means to your goal.


Types of Relationships as a Leader at the Workplace


The Work Buddies


Some leaders prefer to take on the role of a friend rather than that of a boss. This is can done as a way of winning employee support and thus establishing loyalty through the relationship. In this form of relationship, formalities are put aside and discussion is more open, given that the pressure of staying absolutely “professional” at all times is reduced.


How to Establish it?

This is a relationship type that can’t be immediately forced. In the same way friendship can’t be ordered, establishing a Work Buddy style of relationship takes charm and sincerity. Things usually begin on a formal note, but as time goes on, you can choose to loosen up and begin showing your personal side and dropping formalities. Going out for lunch with employees can be a next step. When establishing this relationship, caution must be taken as to not appear insincere: Being friends merely because it advances your work.


The epitome of this relationship style is being able to insult each other face-to-face without the fear of some serious workplace retribution. That’s how you roll.


The Opinion-Friendly Relationship


For leaders who are in want of suggestions and feedback from employees, a relationship where open communication is encouraged and opinions celebrated is a relationship worth developing.  These leaders paint themselves as open minded bosses ready to listen to employees. This form of relationship is especially important in jobs where employee creativity drives the workforce and individual opinions are absolutely vital to the task at hand.


How to Establish it?

An open door policy helps. Some leaders opt to allow employees to walk into their office at any time to provide suggestions and opinions. This can be quite effective, but it comes at a cost. This is a high-maintenance relationship where each opinion must be addressed, lest employees get the impression that you don’t actually care about their thoughts. In theory, it can seem demanding, but in reality most employees are unlikely to mindlessly bombard bosses with a multitude of opinions.


The Get Your Stuff Together


Different situations demand different relationships. Being strict and autocratic is often frowned upon, but some leaders may choose to do so if the workplace is in a rut and needs a strong guiding hand. With a Get Your Stuff Together relationship, leaders create the perception of being strict and serious. It is useful when facing down complacent employees.


How to Establish it?

Being angry isn’t effective. Rather, to establish this relationship, a strict yet professional personality must be presented. Clear identifying expectations and addressing each conversation in a formal tone can create the impression that this relationship stands for no nonsense. Sometimes, this relationship requires the leader to rebuke an employee; though care must be taken to keep things on a professional level at all times.

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