How to identify real friends when you're a leader

A consequence of organizational leadership is misunderstanding who is for you and who is for the organization.  Leaders end up with hurt souls. They invest in someone they cared for and thought the relationship was reciprocal but discover through adversity or conflict they discover the friendship was based on the mission.  Betrayal is not an uncommon emotion found buried deep in a leaders heart.  Most leaders have their own personal Judas somewhere in their story.

I'm amazed at how many times I can think about feeling betrayed. I thought the person was for me but instead they were only about the organization. I've also watched many people leave a team or organization and they feel abandoned. For those of us who are leaders we embody the mission therefore leaving us and incapable of differentiating between a persons service to the mission and their trusted friendship with us.

So how do we recognize friends in the midst of organizational leadership?  Here are four tips to elevating your friendships as a leader.

1.  More than the mission - If the only thing you and this other person talk about is the mission be prepared for this relationship to alter if either of you move on.  Even soldiers who go and defend each other in battle will go home and have less communication.  Is there any higher cost than your life?  Is there any greater connection than with someone who protected your life?  Yet, soldiers still part ways and have distance.  If you value a relationship with someone you serve with in the mission make sure you spend your time talking about life outside the mission.

2.  Do they come to you - Many of you reading this are in some form of Christian leadership.  Do you realize most of the people you lead identify you as someone who is there to serve them?  They are not fools. You are there to serve.  We can forget this and then end up hurt because we thought our service translated to friendship.  Leaders can recognize friends by paying attention to who seeks them out for quality time.  Not training time.  Not spiritual guidance.  Not "how to" around the mission. But look for those people who seek time with you outside of what the mission needs.

3.  Do you go to them - You didn't think discovering friends was a one way street?  You're a leader, so don't be afraid to lead.  If you want to have a friendship with someone beyond the mission than say it.  Leaders communicate.  If you want to have long term friendships let potential friends know it!

4.  They pray for you, you pray for them - I've learned that my friends beyond the mission are the ones who can hear me in good times and bad times and their response is the same: They are praying for what is happening in my life.  That is a friend.  And it makes me want to do the same for them.  Again, you should think about doing this for someone else if you are looking to have friends who stick by you as a leader.

I wish I could say I am perfect relationally but there is a trail of broken relationships that say otherwise.  So I need your participation in this conversation.  Will you help us do this part of our lives better?

What have you learned about being in a postion of leadership and having meaningful friendships?  Please comment and join the conversation below!