Can you be friends with your boss?

For this third and last blog, I would like to raise a point we did not speak about during the lecture. However, I had the chance to share my opinion with some students during one of the group sessions. Indeed, during more than ten minutes, we discussed about this question: “Can you be friends with your boss?” We had an interesting debate this is why I wanted to share it with you. First of all, this question seems obvious but actually it is more complicated and controversial than it looks like.

Many years ago, nobody asked this question. Indeed, it seemed impossible than an employee had a kind of friendship with his boss. The hierarchy was strong and few bosses shared relationship with their employee. Therefore, a friendship was impossible. However, the structure and the design of organizations are changing due to globalization and internationalization. The hierarchy is becoming more and more flat. The team working is increasing in each company. All this factors lead to this trend where bosses must have more direct contacts and relationships with their employees. Therefore, friendship is now possible between employees and bosses. But is it sustainable and efficient?

The opinion about a friendship between boss and employee are divergent. Some specialists say that it is efficient for the company, others say that it reduces the efficiency. I strongly believe that first of all it depends on the culture of the country where the organization is located, on the company’s culture and on its size. Do you prefer working with someone you appreciate or with someone you do not like? I am sure you answer easily to this question.

In my opinion, friendship encourages employees to work harder and push him to accomplish his goals as the best as he can. But where should be the line drawn? Working in an environment where you know that you are supported is always easier than the contrary. The employee trusts his boss and wants to stay in the company. It is easier to speak to his boss when you know him, when he appreciates you and when he know he will be receptive.

On the other hand, a friendship could also be dangerous. How the other employees are going to react if their boss promotes his closer friend in the company? They are going to think that he was not been promoted because of his capacities but because of his friendship. We can outline others examples where it is complicated to be friend whit his boss:

–          It is always difficult to give feedback to a friend
–          During a restructuration maybe the boss will have to tell it to his friend that his is fired which is never easy.
–          Friendship is based on equality, while the first aim of a boss is to be superior.
–          …

For all this reasons, it is very difficult that a friendship and a professionalism relationship co-exist at the same time.

To conclude, I will say that boss must build relationship with their employee. It is really important to increase the efficiency of the company and of the employee. Nevertheless, bosses have always to be aware that being close friends with an employee is not easy to handle. Therefore, in my opinion they should be careful of the possible friendship they could have with their employee. The boss and the employee have to draw the line between their relationship and their friendship, it is essential to be effective.

Cultural intelligence (CQ)

Everybody knows the emotional intelligence (EQ) and the general mental ability (IQ). But who has already heard about Cultural intelligence (CQ)? In our world which is becoming more and more globalized, I found it was interesting to analyze how leaders and managers should be aware of the different cultures. Why should they know the culture of the others? Is it important for the effectiveness of their company? Culture rises a lot of questions. In this blog, I would like to speak a little be more about the cultural intelligence which will be mandatory for the leaders of tomorrow.

Definition: Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity (Ang, Van Dyne, & Koh, 2005; Earley & Ang, 2003; Earley & Mosakowski, 2005).

More and more organizations require to work with managers who have large knowledge about the different cultures. Organizations have to deal with hundred different companies around the world for contracts, patterns, supply, transportations … In fact, the way of leading in Western countries is not the same as the one in a South-East Asian countries.

The knowledge of the different cultures will help the manager to engage cross-cultural interactions, understand the beliefs and values of the company he is working with, deal with multicultural situation, perform in a multicultural team and therefore gain the credibility of the other team members.  If you increase your cultural intelligence, you will improve your effectiveness as a leader. In fact, the general mental ability is not always a synonym of effectiveness when the leader has to deal with a multicultural problem.

The cultural intelligence is not part of every culture. For example, there are cultures which do not want to know what are the cultures of the others countries. I advise manager to have the most knowledge about the different culture as they can. However how can managers develop their cultural intelligence?

Everybody can develop and improve his cultural intelligence. Following David Livermore, it can be improved thanks to four different segments:

–          Drive
–          Knowledge
–          Strategy
–          Action

Cultural Intelligence

Drive: can be seen as the motivation to continuously learn, improve his knowledge about the different cultures and adapt to them. “Our studies have found that without eagerness to take on the challenges of multicultural work, leaders face a high rate of failure”, said David Livermore. Learning a different languages is part of the drive.

Knowledge: Cultural knowledge is not about understanding a new culture, it is about knowing how the different cultures built the personality, the beliefs and the values of the people. To improve his cultural knowledge it is important to know the history of the country. Even basic knowledge will help you to be understand people’s behavior. You will able to understand how cultures affect your work environment.

 Strategy: Strategy is about how the manager is going to take the culture into account to make his planning. It is to think of culture when you are organizing a meeting, presentation … A manager who knows cultures will implement different strategy according the culture of the employee or the costumers

 Action: The last point of cultural intelligence is action. Action is the ability for the manager to adapt his behavior to the different cultures he is dealing with. Action is also about how the manager tackles a cultural situation which is not turning as I thought.

Leading with cultural intelligence by David Livermore.

To conclude, improving cultural intelligence demands a lot of efforts. Nevertheless, it will be necessary for the managers and the leaders of tomorrow to have deep knowledge of the different cultures. Looking at the body, the habits, the conversations, the style, the voice, and the clothes is a good starting point to understand the different cultures.

References:

Irina Budrina, “Leadership style, how does culture influence leaders?” Romania-insider.com, 2 February 2011. Web. 15 March 2014.

Clodagh O’Reilly, “Why is cultural intelligence important?” trainingzone.co.uk, 14 January 2013. Web 15 March 2014.

Culturalq.com Web. 15 March 2014

David Livermore, “cultural intelligence”, davilivermore.com, Web. 15 March 2014.

 

How to lead relationships and conflicts in a team

During the class, we have talked about making a team. We gave some arguments about the best teams and the worst teams we have worked with. There were many different propositions according to the experiences that the students have already had. A vast majority of students seemed interested by this debate. This is why I would like to focus a little bit deeper on what we talked about. How should a manager build an efficient team? How should he react if a conflict occurs between two or more team members? In my opinion, it is really interesting to think about. I strongly believe that when there is a task group that have a higher knowledge and stronger relationship, they will perform with a greater efficiency.

In the future, most of us will have a job which will require leadership skills. As a leader’s role it will be important to take the right decision to make the most effective team. I would like to explain to you some tips which could be useful during our career. I would like to propose you a reading which is called “What a Star What a Jerk” from the Havard Business Review. This reading deals with a guy called Andy who is a star in term of performance but he is a jerk with his bad relationship behavior. Jane, his manager, does not know what to do. Thanks to the following tips, maybe she will find a solution.

First, one of the biggest mistake she did is that she did not clarify the goal and the purpose. I strongly believe that when you are the leader you have to explain the task and goals for each member individually but also the common goal. Each member has to play a role in the team. When the individual goals and objectives are clear and understandable, the relationship and the trust will be stronger. In this way the team will enter in a virtuous circle. This graph below shows the main functions that a team has to have. Following the different personalities, each member will have his own specific function.

Key roles teams1

Secondly, the leader has to be careful with the possible conflicts that would arise. In this case, Jane waited to loo long before starting to find a solution. She believed that things would get better over time. The following graph proposes the dos and don’ts to solve a conflict within a team. It is important to understand the problem. The first thing to solve when you are in a conflict is the relationship between the different parties. When the relationship is getting better, the parties can work on the roots of the conflict. As a leader you have to fix rules. For example: allow the parties a chance to explain how they see the problem, try that the different parties  agree on the problem,  play a mediator role, speak about the different possible solving solution, find a win-win solution and try to restore the confidence between the parties.

 

 

conflict-resolution1

 

The last point I would like to outline is that you have cannot forget that you are a leader. In the “what a star, what a jerk” case, Jane totally forgot that she was the leader and that one of her task was to lead a team and try to make it as effective as possible. You have a strong impact on the relationship between the workers. You have to implement trust and confidence. You have to show that success is possible. If you believe in your team, the team will believe in you. Show that you are a leader and that you can lead them to success.

To conclude, I know that this list is not complete. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that those tips could help a leader to manage the relationships in his team and to make it efficient. The last graph focusses on several points that I did not speak about but which are really interesting for a more complex framework. Do not forget that a group becomes a team when the individual goals are realized for the common one and when the synergy between the members lead to efficiency, productivity, quality and cooperation.

 

keys_to_team_effectiveness1

Bibliography:

  • Case: “what a star what a jerk “, Harvard Business review, Sarah Cliffe, September 2001.<http://test.scripts.psu.edu/users/j/b/jbm18/302_PM_Materials/Chapter%209_Human%20Resources%20Mgmt/What%20a%20Star%20What%20a%20Jerk%20-%20HBR.pdf>
  • Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge, Organization Behavior, Pearson Edition.