Today I have the chance to get together with a very good friend, someone who I have known for over thirty-years (almost my whole life).
Despite what life has brought us (marriage, kids, deaths, relocations, jobs, etc.) we've stayed in close contact, and whenever we're in the same state (which isn't often), we do our best to spend a bit of time "catching up."
Even when we only have a few hours together, it often feels like neither one of us has left; often the truest markings of friendship are that distance and time don't make a difference.
Friendship is a lot like leadership. In order for deep friendships to grow, we have to spend lots of time cultivating them. My buddy and I reach out to each other regularly, forgoing contact through Facebook or other social media for phone calls, texts, and in-person visits. This all requires time, much more than a "Happy Birthday" wish on Facebook would. And yet, these types of communication are also much more meaningful than anything I could post on someone's timeline. Leadership is much the same way. We need to be well-connected, both virtually and face-to-face, and work hard towards maintaining these connections. We can't afford to lose ourselves in the email list; phone calls and visits need to be a staple of how we lead as well.
In addition, friendships are always about negotiation. It can't always be your way, nor can it always be about the needs of your friend. Friends support each other at all times, therefore, whenever one friend feels on the end of a rope, the other friend serves as the anchor. This means that a friendship is about balance, just like leadership. When we lead, we must make sure that we're supporting others as much as they support us. If we remain as the supportive one at all times, we may never be propped up when we need it most. If we're always the one who needs the support, then we're likely not doing much leading at all.
We must treat our leadership roles like we would a great friend. The investment of time, balanced support, and the give-and-take of negotiation must always be at the heart of what we do.