• Ascent Leadership Program

Friendship at Work


Gallup, the organization behind StrengthsFinders and multitudes of employee engagement studies, have consistently shown the importance of friends in the workplace. Close relationships, one-on-one, can influence us for years and endure for decades. Gallup research discovered things like, "someone at work seems to care about me as a person", "there is someone at work who encourages my development" and even, "I have a best friend at work". But wait Paul, I've always been told to not get too close to people at work, that it's too messy, I need to keep work and non-work life separate, or that this is a boundary I shouldn't cross, right?


Yes, I've heard similar things over the years, yet, my experience is proving to contradict that. Despite the predominant emphasis on self-development (yes, a big part of ASCENT), I have consistently learned more in relationship (also a big part of ASCENT), whether that be at home or work. Research shows that friendships are vital to happiness and achievement on the job. That same research shows the energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams and organizations. Speaking of marriage, Nietzsche once said, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." One-on-one relationships, friendships, are a key to growth. The magic number seems to be three key friendships, as one person can't do it all! For more information on this interesting topic, I recommend two books, Vital Friends by Tom Rath and The Twelve Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James Harter.


Questions for reflection:

  1. As I reflect on my friendships, what would I like to be different?

  2. In a virtual work environment, what are the opportunities to connect and extend care and friendship to others?

  3. Am I satisfied with the quality and quantity of my friendships?

  4. What kind of friend am I?

  5. How does friendship connect to my purpose and values?

  6. How focused am I on what a friend contributes versus what they may lack?

  7. Am I somebody's "best friend" at work and see them as a person?

  8. Does my friend measurably improve my life at work? Who can't I do without?

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