Can you be BFF’s with your boss?


Is befriending your boss career suicide or an incentive up the corporate ladder? Leadership coach Nobuntu Mpotulo shares some advice.

By Françoise Gallet

There’s little doubt that being best friends with your boss can complicate work dynamics – perceptions of favouritism can tarnish reputations. But time spent working together often produces great relationships.

1. No rule book. There’s no magic formula for professional relationships. It helps to think of relationships as a continuous sequence – a friendship can be professional, as being professional is also being friendly.  The cornerstone of a productive relationship is Ubuntu.

2. Be discerning. Your relationship needs to be aligned with personal values and the ethical expectations of the organisation you work for. If a friendship with your boss or staff member develops, it should begin with an open discussion about how it will be managed against the requirements of the job and the organisation

3. Set boundaries. The challenge with not setting boundaries from the start is that if things get complicated down the line, it can have far-reaching consequences.

4. Communicate clearly. Wherever you are on the relationship scale, when an issues arise, the ability to maturely talk your way to a better relational understanding is important. Nothing builds boundaries and transparency in a relationship better than courageous conversations.