The friend complex

When you raise through the ranks, keep in mind that your role, responsibilities, relationships shift.

It is mainly a journey you have to do alone. And you can’t make up for it by pretending you are still friend with everyone. Your words have a different weight. Your messages have a different weight. Even your ideas and opinions have a different weight. The best you can do is embrace this fact and act as it is expected by your new role.

Instead of cracking an ambiguous joke, shut up and listen.

Instead of sharing your pain and frustration, own other’s pains and frustrations.

Instead of giving your opinion on every topic, ensure that others can give theirs.

The friend complex is dangerous for founders, executives, managers. Whether you resist to it might make the difference between being alone and being lonely.


If things are difficult, everyone is impacted. Those in high positions, those in the middle, and those at the bottom.

And it works in a way so that those at the bottom do not care for the impact on those higher up. Because for them, it is often a matter of survival, and survival does not allow for unselfishness.

The point is that if you are in a situation of crisis and you are on top, do not expect others to give you empathy. Be prepared to be giving it out by the bucketload instead.

Broken promises

If you manage a company, a team, a project, the most you can do is managing the inputs and monitor the outcomes.

Too much time is wasted, too many promises broken, in the attempt to manage the outcomes. Outcomes are out of anybody’s control. Even those who have already succeeded in the field you are trying to master cannot promise outcomes.

And so, instead:

  • Ensure the input is aligned with what you want to achieve
  • Ensure the input is consistent over time
  • Ensure the input is promoted as success (or failure)

That’s how you keep you and your team sane.


When a manager talks in a negative way of a team member, even one who is no longer part of the team, the only person who is being harmed is the manager.

Because others will figure out pretty much immediately that the manager does not have their best interest at heart. And they will go searching for somebody who does.

Good luck hiring and onboarding new people every few months.