There are at least two ways in which relationships are difficult for leaders. First, relationships between the people who are being led can make leadership difficult. For example, imagine that you are a leader who needs to encourage certain workers to be more productive. Then imagine that the relationships between some of these workers are poor. You are trying to get them to work together towards a common goal but they do not like each other and do not want to cooperate. This is clearly a problem.
It is sometimes said that “it is lonely at the top.” This captures the other of the major problems that leaders face when it comes to relationships. Leaders can have a hard time forming relationships with those who follow them. Leaders have to worry that they will be perceived as favoring those with whom they have relationships. They will also have to worry that subordinates are cultivating relationships with them as a way of advancing their careers. These are two ways that leaders face challenges in relationships.