Leadership Values: Is Friendship a Leadership Quality?

Leadership Values: Is Friendship a Leadership Quality?

Is friendship a leadership quality? Learn how the values of friendship can inspire leaders and help build team cohesion.

Today’s topic is friendship. In this post, the Lazy Leader concludes a short leadership series influenced by the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics.

The Olympics is a great spectacle of human endeavour. With over 10,000 athletes—Olympians—from around the world training for years to have the opportunity to represent their nation.

The Olympic values are:

  • Striving for excellence,
  • Demonstrating respect, and finally
  • Celebrating friendship.

Let’s consider the third value: Celebrating friendship.

In 2003 British athlete Dwain Chambers tested positive for banned substances. He received a two-year athletics ban for cheating by using the anabolic steroid THG. He also received a life-time Olympics ban that was lifted in 2012.

But this post isn't about Chambers. Instead, I want to focus on Christian Malcolm's qualities and his remarkable friendship with Chambers. And I ask: what can leaders learn from this?


Friendship is the relationship between friends. Friends care for one another, yet Malcolm paid dearly for Chamber’s cheating. He had his 2003 4×100 m relay silver medal taken away. But he stood by his friend.

According to Wikipedia, friends share the following values:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
  • Enjoyment of each other’s company
  • Trust in one another
  • Positive reciprocity: a relationship based on equal give-and-take between the two parties
  • The ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement

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