Pro­mo­tion to CEO sev­ers ties with for­mer friends

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Sev­eral years ago

I be­came the CEO of a com­pany with em­ploy­ees who work hard and pro­vide ex­cel­lent ser­vice at fair prices ev­ery day.

I am very proud of what we do. Af­ter more than 40 years of work­ing for this same com­pany, I still look for­ward to go­ing to the of­fice ev­ery day. Our prospects, I be­lieve, are bright.

So what’s the prob­lem? Be­fore I be­came CEO, I had good friends at work. But now that I am “the boss,” peo­ple treat me dif­fer­ently. I hate that.

It is es­pe­cially bad with one per­son. I al­ways liked work­ing with her. She is bright, en­er­getic, cre­ative and ex­cel­lent at ev­ery­thing she does. But now that I am CEO she ar­gues with me about ev­ery­thing. I don’t think I’ve made any de­ci­sion yet that she has liked.

Part of it, I be­lieve, is that she re­gards her­self as the spokesper­son for all our women em­ploy­ees. I think she might be afraid she will lose cred­i­bil­ity with them if she is ever seen to be in agree­ment with me on any­thing.

To be clear, she has made some great points and been very help­ful to our com­pany in draw­ing at­ten­tion to is­sues of gen­der equal­ity. And we’ve been re­spon­sive, al­though never enough to sat­isfy her.

I’ve ac­cepted the fact that she and I will never en­tirely agree on all the changes she wants us to make.

But why does she have to be so neg­a­tive about ev­ery­thing I do? I miss my friend.

She has be­come in­stead this great thorn in my side. Now in­stead of seek­ing her out for her ad­vice like I once did, I find my­self avoid­ing her and dread­ing her vis­its to my of­fice.

Is there any hope things can go back to the way they were? — Deal­ing with a Thorn in My Side

Dear Deal­ing with a Thorn in My Side: Once you be­came CEO, you should have known that things would not go back to the way they were. It is lonely at the top. While your for­mer friend made some great sug­ges­tions for change at the com­pany, it ap­pears that she can­not ac­cept the fact that you are the CEO now.

It’s sad that your friend­ship is not the same as it once was, but be­cause of your pro­mo­tion, it never will be the same.

Some­times, when look­ing back, we see things as bet­ter than they ac­tu­ally were.

The fact that she has be­come this ar­gu­men­ta­tive since your pro­mo­tion is not help­ful for any­one — for you, for her, for your em­ploy­ees. You need loyal peo­ple at your side.

Chal­leng­ing au­thor­ity is fine and can of­ten be con­struc­tive, but when you dread the per­son vis­it­ing your of­fice, that is not a sign of a val­ued friend or em­ployee.

Ap­pre­ci­ate her good qual­i­ties and her wellthough­t-out sug­ges­tions, but in­sist that if she per­sists in dis­agree­ing with ev­ery­thing you do, she will no longer be an em­ployee of the com­pany. Suc­cess­ful CEOs are friendly to ev­ery­one at work, but they look for true friend­ships out­side the of­fice.

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