In the new world of online social networking, it’s easy, and addictive to feel liked. After all, with hundreds or even thousands of “friends” and followers, many people have finally achieved the popularity that was so elusive to them in high school. Online socializing is easy, but what about the real thing – developing strong relationships with people that we interact with every day. Common sense, not to mention much research, shows that people with good friends and strong social ties are happier than people without these bonds. So what if we isolate this to the workplace? What are the benefits of having strong ties with co-workers? Research shows that if you’re a leader, there are important benefits to having good relationships with your bosses and peers.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that leaders with higher quality ties with their bosses and peers were more likely to be sought out by their peers for organization-related advice, and were perceived by their direct reports as having higher status in the organization. In addition, these leaders had more trusting and respectful relationships with their direct reports.
On the other side of the coin, what about the leaders who had weaker connections with their bosses and peers? Not surprisingly, they were perceived as having less status in the organization, and their relationships with their direct reports were weaker.
The study authors suggest that it would benefit organizations to support informal networking between leaders, their peers and their bosses. This would strengthen perceptions of leader status among employees, and would help leaders to have outlets for discussing issues and solving problems.
So the next time you have an opportunity to have lunch or coffee with that manager down the hall whose name you know, but that’s about all, you might want to do it. There is little to lose and possibly much to gain.