Manager: Friend, Foe, and Boss

Manager: Friend, Foe, and Boss
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Navigating the role of a manager is like juggling three balls labeled "Boss," "Friend," and "Foe." Drop one, and the whole act falls apart. But when done right, these roles complement each other in a way that fosters a productive, inclusive, and growth-oriented environment. Let's dive into each of these facets to understand how they work in harmony.

Boss: The Driver of Success

As a boss, my primary role is to ensure that we deliver high-quality products, and that too, ahead of schedule. But it's not just about the end product; it's about your career growth as well. I'll challenge you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, to explore new areas and emerging technologies. Why? Because that's how you future-proof your career. When you grow, the team grows, and ultimately, the company grows. It's a win-win-win.

Friend: More Than Just Colleagues

Work is important, but it's not everything. You have a life outside the office—family, hobbies, interests—that makes you unique. Building rapport isn't just about grabbing drinks after work or discussing weekend plans; it's about genuinely understanding what makes you tick. When I know what motivates you, or when you're going through a tough time, it helps me be a more empathetic leader. We're not just colleagues; we're a support system for each other.

Foe: The Necessary Evil

Let's get one thing straight: being a "foe" doesn't mean I'm out to get you. If I'm hard on you, it's because I see potential that's not being met, or deadlines that are slipping through the cracks. This could be due to an oversight in my "Boss" mode, or external factors affecting your performance. But make no mistake, this strictness is aimed at growth—for you and the product. If you try to take advantage of our friendship, then the "Foe" mode becomes essential for setting boundaries and ensuring success.


Being a manager means wearing multiple hats. The roles of Boss, Friend, and Foe are not mutually exclusive but are interdependent. When balanced correctly, they create a work environment where everyone thrives. So, the next time you see me switching roles, know that it's all part of the grand juggling act that is management. And trust me, I'm as invested in keeping all the balls in the air as you are.