LEADERSHIP: Your mate’s your boss.

ladderMy abiding regret in 18 years as a police officer is that I never went for promotion. As you get longer in service you see friends climbing up the ladder. Police Sergeant, Police Inspector; before you know it they have gold braid on their hats.

I regret not going for promotion not because my friends have over took me. I regret not going for promotion because the process to select a supervisor was less corporate then, more focused on leadership, capability and the job allowed the supervisors to work with their staff, on the street. Yes, that still happens to a certain extent but nowhere as much as it used to be and to be honest it is as much as to do with the individual as with the system.

Several things happens when a mate, an equal get promoted, either permanently or temporarily. Firstly, I suspect you both feel embarrassed for each other and for each other’s work positions. Your mate feels embarrassed about giving you an order.  You feel embarrassed following it.

Friends newly promoted I know have been told “You can’t mix with them now, your different!” In contradiction with that the mates of the newly promoted think; “He’s my mate, he will see me right.” Straight away there is a conflict between friendship and job ship. I pity the newly promoted supervisor who has to juggle this balance especially if they now supervise the team they were once a member of. Equally I pity their work mate who’s work relationship with them changes for ever.

“To thine own self be true.” I know of a few friends that have sacrificed themselves in order to become what the organisation wants them to be. A goal they themselves originally set out to better themselves, to make a difference in a system they chose to become a part of. Best intentions in a system they have no control over. Now this is all sounding pretty negative with regards to promotion. Similar to the chicken and the egg what came first? Supervision made the rules to choose the future supervisors? Or does the established system now mold the future supervisors.

There is a danger that the system that builds you up with good intent absorbs you to the extent that you no longer remember why you wanted to be promoted, stuck on a continual conveyor belt of stamped out “boss’s” doing what there are told. You are less a leader that you were as a coal face worker.  To their credit, several high profile officers have conceded that the very system that enabled them to rise to the rank they hold has enabled them to criticise that very same system. A paradox no doubt.

So to refocus, as there are a few side issues here that no doubt will be discussed in more detail. What do you do when your mate becomes your boss?

Ideally your mate will still be your mate and you will follow their orders because they are your mate and they make good operationally sense, ideally. If they take a position to hide behind their rank or equally you try to make capital out of a friendship advantage then your relationship will very quickly break down.

Ultimately, as with any work balanced relationship, it is not so much as us and them. It is more to do with WE. Its all give and take.  IDEALLY, a system should exist where that relationship should flourish and not be frowned on.



2 thoughts on “LEADERSHIP: Your mate’s your boss.

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  1. I have to say, it’s all about management style or leadership being more to the point. You see your mates outside work, you lead them at work. I ended up marrying a comms op that worked in the room I oversaw. The most important thing is the ability of everyone to be professional per se’. My style was to have an open door discussion type relation with my staff, being supportive, and to be quite honest disagreeing with what ACPO was forcing down our throats. However, if one of my people went awry, it was my honest belief that they were letting themselves, their team, and me down in that order, it’s called trust. It is the most important issue you have with your team, and it works both ways! Management is doing things through others regardless of issues. Leadership is making those people want to do it on your behalf.

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