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Leadership Principle #8 - Friendships have the power to transform your organization.  
“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you.” – Ru 1:16

A CEO friend of mine relentlessly kids with his subordinates.

Though an introvert, he is comfortable leading thousands of employees in a Christian non-profit. During a visit to his office, I watched him shoot paper wads into people’s trash cans as we walked by their cubes.

The power of friendship is exemplified in the book of Ruth. After her husband dies, Ruth doesn’t have to stay with Naomi, her former mother in law, yet she chooses to do so: “[W]herever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16).

In the end, Naomi and Ruth’s lives are both redeemed from emptiness and despair because of Ruth’s commitment to their friendship.

Friendship is a powerful force. According to Gallup, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their companies than those without. A Columbia University study says workers who do regular favors and receive recompense are more productive than those who focus strictly on their own jobs.

An employee’s overall job satisfaction, engagement, enthusiasm, and commitment are significantly affected by his or her on-the-job relationships.

According to an article in the Journal of Industrial Relations, committed employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization. Research by Seijts and Crim found “...an employee’s attitude toward the job and the company had the greatest impact on loyalty and customer service than all other employee factors combined.

How do organizations promote friendship in order to get these kinds of results? One tactic is to invest in enough tools and resources until the demands on employees match or slightly exceed their production capacity.

This reduces negativity and fuels the self-perception that they are growing, engaged, and productive. It builds stores of energy that benefit the employees in many areas of work and life.

Another tactic is to network employees inside and outside the organization through company-sponsored charitable events, office parties, group lunches, or other activities.

Abraham Lincoln wrote, “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” Since we spend most of our lives working, why not make our jobs a better part of life, too?

-- This post is from chapter 8 of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H, 2010)

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Tom Harper
Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets. He is the author of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).
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