I can look back on my life and see where there was always a group of friends that were there for me to support me as I grew older and tried to figure out life. No matter your life stage, your circle of friends can impact your leadership skills in a positive way. 

5 ways friendships help your leadership

1. Encouragement

Your friends are the ones that should be believing in you and rooting for your success in the good times as well as the bad. Thanks to the internet and specialized social media accounts, it’s easy to go out and get a little motivation each day. While there is nothing wrong with those outlets; they actually do have some encouraging thoughts from time to time, encouragement from a friend hits differently. Encouragement means more from those that you respect and know on a personal level. Check out 5 ways to encourage friends at work and at home for tips on how you can be an encouragement to others. 

2. Friendships boost our self-confidence

Friends are certainly good for your self-esteem. They help you feel secure and give you a sense of belonging. They are your cheerleaders and inject confidence into the decisions and moves that you make. Think about a good friend that is or was that person for you. How are using that example with those that you lead? Would you consider yourself a great cheerleader and coach or is there a chance to improve?

3. Friendships expand our perspectives

A healthy circle of friends exposes us to different views, opinions, experiences, and cultures. They also stimulate our creativity, curiosity, and innovation. Having that larger worldview and context is essential in order to be the best leader that you can be for your team and in leading yourself well. Be open to listening to others as they share their perspectives and grow keenly aware as your biases put up a defense around what others share and think. 

4. Friendships build trust and loyalty

Sometimes it can be hard to share about your personal life with others that you lead. There are a number of root causes of that hesitation; maybe you’ve been burned in the past, taught early on to keep personal discussions to a minimum or you worked somewhere that did not promote transparency in their organization. A good friend can help you grow through this by giving you opportunities to be vulnerable and transparent with them, sharing things that you may not be comfortable sharing with teammates yet. 

5. Friendships cultivate compassion and empathy

It’s important to know the difference between empathy, sympathy, and pity. While it’s likely that you’ll run through all of those emotional responses during the life of a friendship, friends can teach us a great deal about empathy. In order to have empathy with someone, you’ve got to be able to put yourself in their proverbial shoes. That can be a challenging muscle to strengthen, but it can be trained with your friends. They are the ones that you know the most; you likely have a good amount of relationship equity built up and you have a better understanding of the larger context of what’s going for the other person. Leverage your friendships to grow your empathy with your team and be thankful for the times that your friends show empathy and compassion to you. 

Friendships can help us become better leaders by boosting our self-confidence, expanding our perspectives, fostering trust and loyalty, and cultivating compassion and empathy. By caring for and learning from your friendships, you can become a more inspiring leader for others to follow. 

Make a better tomorrow.