Moving up in an organisation isn’t always easy. While it‘s great for you and your career ladder, you will inevitably find yourself facing various barriers.
Generally, the higher you go, the more you leave behind the day to day practical side of the business and embrace strategy – this requires some new thinking on your part to build your strategic capabilities.
The second challenge you may encounter is one of the most significant moves you will face as you move outside of your comfort zone.
Leading your former friends, peers and colleagues.
If the thought sends waves of trepidation through you, you wouldn’t be alone!
Managing former peers can create its own set of difficulties; you may have to deal with individuals who are jealous or resentful and think they should have been the one to be promoted.
So, how do you win your colleagues round and cultivate confidence in your leadership?
1. Let Your Manager Introduce You
It’s a good idea to have your manager take the strain off you by being the one to inform your former peers of your new role.
Rather than you have to say “So guys, I’m the leader now!” you can avoid any awkwardness by formalising the procedure and getting your manager to introduce your new role.
This also serves to establish you as part of the management team in your colleagues’ eyes by having your manager ‘add weight’ to the situation by confirming your new position.
2. Have the Conversation
If former peers have issues with your promotion, it’s best to address them head-on rather than let them simmer.
Difficult conversations are an inevitable part of a leadership role.
Left undiscussed, your team’s grumbles can create genuine problems for you, so a one to one with former peers to get everything out in the open from the word go is the way forward.
Equally some former peers will think everything will continue as before, especially if there was a good friendship and you’re now working out how to rebalance the relationship and be fair to everyone.
Addressing potential issues, questions or concerns will enable you both to draw a line and get on with your roles after the discussion.
3. Set Your Game Plan
What do you want to achieve in your new role?
Starting a leadership role can be daunting; you need to set yourself goals to enable you to establish your credibility and integrity from the start.
Planning your first 30, 60 and 90 days will allow you to evaluate what the role calls for, and how you can achieve these goals.
This is not about personal wins, or feeding your own ego, but about how you can successfully take charge of the expectations of your new job role.
Which neatly leads me on to the next point to remember…
4. Don’t Feed Your Ego
Too many newly-appointment leaders change things just for the sake of it. I’m sure you’ve witnessed this in other leaders!
Putting your stamp on things might make you feel good about yourself but, believe me, your team of former peers will see straight through your egotistical motives, and it will only serve to damage your credibility at a time when you need to establish yourself.
So, be sure you only make changes where necessary in your new appointment. If things are working fine, leave them that way. As the expression goes – “If it ain’t broke…”
By being authentic, you’ll gain respect from your team and acceptance of your leadership.
5. Don’t Dictate; Coach and Delegate
Some people still believe that leadership means telling others what to do. Dictatorial methods will only expose you as insecure and possibly even inept in your leadership.
There’s a fine line between direction and dictation.
No–one wants to be dictated to, and although you are the boss, you have intelligent individuals in your team with valuable ideas and knowledge, so make the most of it.
Working with them, rather than pushing against them to get everything your own way, will enable you to establish a collaborative working environment and mutual respect.
It’s tempting to want to tell your team how to do things, but try to rein it in.
You will achieve much better results by coaching them. That way, you will not only create a team that respects you as a leader, but that is enabled to develop their own strategic thinking and abilities that could see them become future leaders.
6. Accept the Change
It’s no longer the case that you are working alongside former peers.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut former friends out of your life, but it will mean that you can no longer go for gossipy lunches with them or indulging in office politics.
You need to accept your role has changed.
You can’t be chatting about Sharon from Accounts terrible obsession with blue eyeshadow one minute and trying to hold a serious conversation with the same colleague an hour later about their performance and a possible disciplinary review.
You just won’t be taken seriously and the above is one of the fastest ways to erode trust in a relationship.
Think, what would my opinion of my boss be if they did this with me? So, distance yourself at work from your former peers, while retaining a collaborative, respectful and supportive attitude.
If you follow these guidelines, you will find it easier to move from your former role to a new level of responsibility.
Remember, consistency is critical for leaders, so remain reliable and authentic in your actions, and you will soon be enjoying leadership of a high performing, successful team.
Until next time.
About blue pea POD
At blue pea POD, we are in the business of enabling leaders and organisations understand who they are, their identity and purpose, creating the profitable future they desire now.
Blue Pea POD works internationally with a client base that includes the FMCG, Retail, and Pharmaceuticals sectors. You can subscribe to our podcast here and then if you would like to find out more about how we can help you get in contact here. Or call +44(0) 845 123 1280