When many next level leaders are promoted, they find themselves managing people who were previously their peers. This can be awkward in some cases, but when you approach it proactively, it doesn’t have to be.
Just because you’ve been promoted doesn’t mean that you’re superior to your former peers. They are still the talented individuals they were when you worked side by side. Their concern is likely that you will treat them differently, and may even fear that you will no longer treat them with respect.
Deal with this head on. Make some one-on-one time together and address the elephant in the room. You’ll find that both you and your colleague will feel relieved having thwarted potential discomfort in the new reporting relationship.
Keep your communication open and direct. If either of you becomes passive aggressive or expects the other to be a mind reader, it will derail your good work of setting your course on the right path.
If you face interpersonal challenges, again, address these promptly. Mutual discomfort will change your relationship dynamic. As a leader, make sure this doesn’t happen.
Bring out the best in these colleagues. Having worked together, you know their strengths. Capitalize on these attributes by asking questions and respecting their knowledge of things that may not be in your wheelhouse.
The biggest danger in your relationship comes if you act superior or bossy. This will break trust and your relationship will erode. Instead, handle your new relationship humbly and thoughtfully. Doing so will pay dividends for years to come.
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