"If you get promoted, you'll manage former peers and that can be awkward. The relationship dynamic has changed because there's a new power dynamic. You now have the authority to lead and you're going to be held accountable for their performance.
Your old buddies have to accept your authority, but you have to embrace that authority too. You have to create a new comfort zone for yourself as the leader, and you have to create a new comfort zone for them as followers.
Here's how you help build that comfort zone -
- Acknowledge the elephant in the room because it's going to ease the transition.
- Ask for their support because it gives them a sense of agency and choice.
- Play to their strengths because it helps them retain confidence.
- Encourage their feedback because it's a way of showing your respect, and
- Encourage their input because it gives them a sense of value.
Now, here's how you avoid some common pitfalls -
- Don't socialize like you used to because it creates awkward situations and it sends mixed messages.
- Don't cling to old friendship because it's perceived as favoritism and it's going to limit your objectivity.
- Don't overshare or confide too much because it looks like you're trying too hard and it's always going to come back to bite you.
Here's how you build your new comfort zone -
- Begin socializing with other managers because you need those social connections and now you have a new peer network to tap into.
- Find a new confidant because you can't use your old team and you'll need a trusted source to bounce ideas off of.
- Clarify your priorities with the team because it sets your compass and it gives your people a chance to help, and
- Give lots of feedback because that's a basic leadership duty and it's an easy way to begin the new relationship.
You're the boss now and you have to accept that new responsibility. If you don't embrace it, your people won't either. This is a change management project and your first leadership challenge. You're creating two new comfort zones, one for your former peers and one for yourself."