At its simplest form a dyad comes from the Greek word meaning two. A dyadic relationship refers to two people that are in an interactional relationship (n.d. Definition) This can be between friends, co-workers, doctor patient relationship, or supervisor employee relationship. In LMX theory, it specifically speaks about the hierarchical relationships or vertical linkages between leaders and followers (Northouse, 2018).
What is the difference between a dyadic relationship between friends and those that occur at work in a hierarchical relationship?
In a friendship there is choice and are typically based on some type of affinity — it is not a forced relationship based on being assigned to a team.
There is authority associated with the leader/follower relationship where feedback is expected to be given – both positive and negative
I personally do not think that it is possible to be friends in the truest sense of what friendship is with the people that report to me. The danger of becoming too friendly with employees can possibly cloud judgement when providing feedback.
I notice the “In” group and the “Out” group on my particular team. My supervisor has a relationship with two team members (who happen to be close in age, gender and kids are similar ages) where they are the “in” group. She also has worked with them on previous teams and brought them into this team when she transitioned. As I read about the theory, it was interesting how quickly I was able to identify the “Ins” and “Outs”. I do not see that there is a friendship between my supervisor and the “Ins” on the team. They do not socialize outside of work.
(n.d.) Medical Definition of Dyad. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12897
(Links to an external site.)
Northouse, P. (2018). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
The difference between a dyadic relationship and a friendship is that a dyadic relationship is characterized by a relationship between a leader and his or her subordinates. The professional dyadic relationship surrounds the exchange between the leader and the subordinate and involves both content and process (Northouse, 2018). The dyadic relationship is largely based on effective communication between the leader and the subordinate.
Whether or not a leader that fails to establish a personal relationship with a co-worker is good or bad is really dependent on the co-worker, their needs and the nature of the relationship. In addition, the culture of the organization comes into play here too, if the culture is relationship based then a leader that was not able to establish a personal relationship with a co-worker could externally, outside of the relationship, be perceived as a bad thing. On the other hand, if the culture is not relationship oriented then if could be perceived as neither good or bad. Regardless of the culture if the second party in the relationship is seeking a personal relationship and the other leader was not capable or willing to establish it, it would likely be perceived as bad. Again, the opposite can also be true, if a second party does not need or want a personal relationship then it could be perceived as neither good or bad.
In my experience, business goes better when you have a personal relationship with co-workers and colleagues. When you have this personal relationship with co-worker, you are afforded goodwill and the benefit of the doubt when it would likely not otherwise be given in the absence of the personal relationship.
Northouse, P. (2018). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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