By: Kevin Eikenberry, co-author with Guy Harris of From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership.
Perhaps you have been looking forward to this day for a long time -- or maybe it came as a surprise.
Whatever your situation, here you are. Whether you are the team leader, supervisor, manager --congratulations! Be excited about the opportunity to lead! Chances are, once the excitement of the announcement wears off, some questions, concerns (and maybe even some self doubt) will arise:
- You want the chance to make a difference, but wonder, How can I handle others on the team that applied for the job, too?
- You are excited that the promotion recognizes you for your contributions, but wonder, How will my peers and those with seniority react to me as their new boss?
- You’re pumped up for the challenge, but wonder, How will I do it!?
Leading a team of peers and friends -- especially when it’s your first leadership role -- is probably the hardest leadership transition of all.
Critical to your success will be the conversations you have -- including the chat you have with yourself.
Five Groups and Five Conversations
The following people or groups are critical for you to talk to as early in your leadership transition as possible. The suggested topics of conversation may not be complete; your unique situation may require that you explore other areas as well.
With your new leader. It is always important to have a conversation with your new boss to build your relationship and more. This is never more important than when you’ve just joined the supervisory ranks.
What to talk about:
Expectations. The job description may not have fully captured the job and your responsibilities. That makes it important to understand how they see your role and what they expect of you. Share your expectations as well. The clearer expectations are the better your relationship will be, and the easier it will be for you to cultivate success in your new job.
Their role. Do they see themselves as your coach? What support will they provide you; what type of support do you desire?
Communication plan. How often, how and about what will you communicate? Such gaps often plague supervisory relationships.
With your team. While you are new to your job, your team probably knows you well. Yet your roles have changed. There are plenty of reasons to have these conversations!
What to talk about:
Expectations. Defining expectations for both you and them is critical. Ask questions and listen first if you want their honest take.
The change. Acknowledge that the world is different, that you aren’t the same person as the old leader and that you will be growing into your new role. Be genuine about your desire for their feedback and support.
Your relationships. Have an open dialogue about their concerns and recognize that your relationships will necessarily be altered by the new working arrangements.
Communication plan. Just as you did with your boss, have this conversation with your team.
With your friends. This group is most likely to resist or try to delay the conversation. The problem with waiting is that once a problem, conflict, issue or misunderstanding arises, the conversation will be much harder and will more likely damage the relationship. Open up the dialogue about their concerns; discuss which topics are appropriate to discuss at work going forward; talk about boundaries in communication, expectations and more. Be open and honest about the changes -- including your concerns and fears. Remember, the sooner you start this conversation, the better off these relationships will be.
With your new peer group. Just because you knew these people before doesn’t mean your relationships won’t change. Some of these people might become your mentors. Some might help you understand the technical aspects of your new role. And your perspective will be valuable to them, too. Start building these relationships via one-on-one or group conversations.
With your old boss. This is an important conversation, particularly if your former boss remains in the organization. Your relationship will undoubtedly change -- perhaps you are now peers, perhaps you are both in a new department, or you were both promoted and you still work for them. Based on the advice above and your specific relationship, make time for this conversation, as appropriate.
There is one more conversation you need to have -- the one you have with yourself. Talk to yourself about your new role, your expectations and the tasks that you know you must complete. Create a plan to learn the skills and habits that will make you a more confident and competent leader.
These conversations will help you transition more effectively and confidently into your new responsibilities. I wish you great success!
Kevin Eikenberry is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He is a leadership expert who writes, speaks, consults, trains and coaches leaders and organizations on leadership issues. He is the co-author with Guy Harris of the new book From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership. You can join the book’s free online community packed with content for leaders.