When you finally get the promotion you’ve always dreamed of, it might come with some unintended consequences. If you’ve become the leader of your former peer group, social atmospheres and the professional hierarchy will suddenly seem very different. This affects your team just as much as it affects you, and an adjustment period is required for everyone involved. It’s important to assume your new role efficiently.
Accept That It’s Going to Be Awkward
Sometimes, it’s better to acknowledge the elephant in the room than it is to turn a blind eye when it starts trampling the file cabinets. There is no graceful way to assimilate from your peers seamlessly and with ease. Trying to act like it’s not awkward for you to be giving orders to the people who used to share orders with you will only make the situation more complicated. Address with candor that it’s a big change, and reiterate that it’s going to affect you just as much as it affects your peer group.
Don’t Come Out Swinging
If your personality as a leader is vastly different from your personality as a peer or a coworker, don’t change overnight. Give yourself some time to settle into your role. Don’t demand immediate authority and expect your peers to fall in line. This will damage your professional relationships, and it might give the impression that you’re power hungry. Ease into your leadership position. Wait a little while to slowly implement small changes, rather than ripping the rug out from underneath everyone.
You should also be conscious of the fact that being a boss need not involve being bossy. Some of the strongest leaders emphasize their connection as a member of the team – not just the individual overseeing it. In most respects, it’s okay to relate to your team members and participate them in the same way you did before your promotion. This is a sustainable leadership strategy, and it will help make the transition smoother.
Keep Friendships and Work Separate
You’ve probably grown close to your peers. You might like to go out for celebratory champagne after the completion of a major project, or hang out and share a pizza during your lunch break. There’s no reason to stop doing that, as long as you’re doing it in the proper context. You can still go out to celebrate with your team – it might even help everyone work better together. Just make sure aspects of your friendships don’t begin to influence the workplace.
You’ll also want to be careful not to practice favoritism. You may have been closer to some of your peers than others, and you cannot let that closeness affect the way you manage them. If you fail to discipline an employee for repeatedly coming in late or missing deadlines, other members of the team might feel as though you’re giving a free pass to your friends. Always address disciplinary situations promptly, regardless of your personal status with a team member.
Keep Your Essence, But Be Confident in Your Authority
If you aren’t confident in your authority over the group, they may perceive you as little more than a bossy peer. The distinction comes in the confidence you exude as a leader. Remind yourself of your strongest professional assets and capabilities. Remember that you were awarded a leadership role based on your skills and merit. Don’t second guess yourself or allow your team to influence your decision making when you’re sure you’re making the right choice. Always consider feedback, but keep in mind that the final decision rests in your capable hands.
The best transition from peer to leader comes gradually and softly. Be patient with your team and they’re willing to be patient with you as you all adapt to your changing work environment.