Lessons in Management: Have Many Friends, Few Allies

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friends are important. Friendships allow a healthy organization to function smoothly. The companies where the management team considers each other friends is a healthy organization that is thriving. At b5media, we have become somewhat famous (at least among ourselves) for our hangout time. We travel and inevitably, we end up drinking beer together and laughing about whatever ironies of the moment present themselves.

As great as friendship is, and as necessary as it is for an organization, the Reagan one liner, “Trust, yet verify” comes into play. Early on, I took what was said to me as gospel. It wasn’t that I was intentionally misled, but the reality is I took too much from people without realizing that it wasn’t always in my best interest to do so.

Allies are a different story. Allies are friends that you can always trust have your best interest in mind. A good example is a cop and his partner. When in the streets, a cop has to recognize that his partner is his ally and that as long as his partner is around, he will have someone “on his six”. And likewise.

In an organization like b5media, I trust everyone has the interest of the company at heart. Few have the best interest of my own organization at heart. It’s not that the desire is not there but more that other folks have their own organizations and jobs to look out for.

Who can blame them? I’m the same way.

The reality is that allies are naturally in short supply. Not every friend can be your ally. Keeping allies close is important for your success as a manager.