From Colleague to Leader: 5 Mental Shifts You Must Make

Congratulations! You’ve just received the long-sought-for promotion, and now find yourself in a brand new leadership role. But perhaps you’re also a little intimidated by the idea that the very people who were working with you, now work for you. This can be a difficult, uncomfortable transition for you and your colleagues. Let’s look at five ways to make it easier.

  1. Old Friends, New Friendships:

As a manager of old colleagues, there is every reason to maintain friendships, even if the work relationship must change. Instead of ignoring the old friendship, you should use it to sit down one-on-one with each member to talk about your new role, lay out your expectations, and ask for theirs. Be honest about how things must change, and you should get the buy-in you need.

  1. Settle Old Rivalries:

You probably weren’t friends (or even friendly), with all of your colleagues, but, as a manager, you’ll need to work with everyone on your team. It’s your job to acknowledge and leverage the strengths of your team members, even if your personal relationship with some of them remains a bit distant.

  1. The Buck Stops With You:

 The old saying is true. As the responsible person, you really are responsible. In terms of making the transition from colleague to leader, you should let your team see you take the blame when things go poorly. At the same time, you should defer credit to your team when things go well. By doing this, your old colleagues will see that you put the team’s goals above your own. And that will encourage them to do the same–take ownership of mistakes, and celebrate others’ achievements.

  1. Forget the Water Cooler:

As a colleague, you may have enjoyed your time with your fellow workers gossiping and complaining about the job and company. As a leader, it’s time to say good-bye to all of that. The higher you rise, the more you come to represent the company.

Beyond that, a boss who gossips and complains is a boss her team won’t respect. And they’ll worry that when they aren’t around, you’re going to gossip about them.

  1. Open Your Ears:

Even as you avoid the water cooler chat, you should know what’s being said there.

Listen to staff, when they have real complaints or suggestions for improvement. You probably remember how you felt when the higher-ups didn’t seem to care what employees thought. Well, now you have a chance to change that.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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