I’ll Be There For Youuuuu: Making the Move from Peer to Leader

By February 16, 2015Career, Leadership

Transitioning from peer to leader is one of the most challenging moves you’ll make in your career.

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Here are some of the reasons:

From Your Colleagues’ Point of View:

  • They were accustomed to you as a friend, confidant, and advisor. Given your promotion, they are concerned about how that may play into your evaluation of them as your direct reports.
  • They enjoyed working with your previous boss and may miss that reporting relationship; or
  • Their previous boss may not have been a strong leader and now they’re concerned history may repeat itself with you (fair assessment or not).
  • They, too, may have had their eye on the promotion prize but didn’t receive it for any number of reasons.

From Your Point of View:

  • You feel as though your peer and friendship circle disappeared overnight. After all, how do you remain close friends with people you now lead?
  • You feel as though you were thrown into new territory without a frame of reference. You’re completely out of your comfort zone and feel like a fish out of water.
  • You wonder if you have what it takes (you do).
  • You’re nervous and scared to be at this new level with leaders you once looked up to.
  • You have major responsibilities now. Before you were responsible for just you. Now you must drive a team of people to meet important metrics including revenue, profit, customer satisfaction, production, and quality. And, you must answer to other leaders about your progress.
  • You’re presenting in meetings now, pitching your ideas, and advocating your recommendations to a group of leaders. Sometimes, you’re the only one who supports your ideas. Getting group buy-in is nerve wracking and scary.
  • You’re not sure the people who report to you will like you as much as they did their previous boss.
  • Maybe it’s even more obvious than that. Maybe you’ve received feedback that your direct reports don’t like you as much as their previous leader. While it’s a tough pill to swallow, it’s often the case in the early days of a new leader’s tenure.

If you’re a new leader and you recognize any of the scenarios above, take heart. It’s all part of the journey. It does get better. And easier.

Here’s what to do:

First, be aware of some typical derailing behaviors that many new leaders exhibit:

  • Overmanaging/micromanaging people on their team
  • Failing to delegate projects or tasks, resulting in untimely delivery
  • Failing to staff projects effectively, resulting in their own and team member burnout
  • Failure to build a team, thereby under appreciating and under acknowledging people on their team
  • Being defensive to others about their own and/or team members’ performance

Second, seek feedback from your boss, your new peers, and your team. Forming relationships among your new peer level will help you to move through the transition with more ease while building a new friend base you can speak openly with.

Leadership 360° Assessments are a great way to gather feedback about your leadership performance. They are a well‐known method for gathering feedback from members of an individual’s immediate work circle and measuring a manager’s style and effectiveness as a leader. The 360° method allows key associates to tell managers what they are doing right and what they can do even better. The Leadership Survey is both a powerful performance evaluation and a challenging development experience for leaders. [More on this feedback tool here.]

Third, give yourself time to build a powerful plan. Acclimate over a period of time to your new responsibilities and make observations about the team, work, and what needs to improve and change. At the 90-day mark, that’s generally when the going gets tough. Not only will you be expected to take things to the next level in your new job, but you’ll likely still be juggling some responsibilities from your previous role.

For even more advice on making a successful transition to leadership, take a look at a previous post.

How about you? How did you successfully manage the transition from peer to leader?

Next week, let’s take a look at the importance of etiquette in leadership. We’re all guilty of forgetting our manners from time to time. As leaders though, we must bring our best self to the table every day.

– Jackie Simon

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