Becoming the leader of your peers is a bittersweet experience. On one hand, you’re outrageously thankful to be put in a position that matches your ambition. On the other hand, you feel really weird about your newfound authority over the people you were once coequal with in previous endeavors. Fortunately, this situation happens all the time. It’s weird but not uncommon, and the awkwardness slowly dwindles away if it’s handled properly.
- Give People Time to Come Around
No matter how funny you feel about the situation, you cannot possibly feel as funny as your former peers. Some of them were probably vying for the position that you got, making the situation a double edged sword. Not only did they miss out on an opportunity they always wanted, but someone they know filled that spot. Don’t try to force them to like or accept the idea immediately. Act naturally and let them work past any confusion or conflicting feelings they may have.
- Have Their Backs
Don’t forget where you came from. You came from the same place as your peers. Is there any way you can use your position as a leader to make their lives a little better? Can you understand and prioritize their goals, helping them forge their ideal trajectory and work their way to the top? Expressing an interest in the betterment of your former peers will show them that you always have their best interest in mind.
- Be a Team Player
Leaders have a lot of responsibilities behind the scenes, and these responsibilities may give team members the impression that their leader is aloof. Be transparent. Sit at the table with your team. If they have to pull an all-nighter on an important project, be the person topping off everyone’s coffee. You’ll maintain a sense of unity and understanding among your team, and when you successfully do that, they’ll be thrilled to have you as a leader.
- Learn to Lead with Confidence
Leaders are in a natural position of dominance. That’s not a bad thing – especially not if it’s used for good. It requires a kind of confidence and authority that is both respectful and effective. Work on building your confidence. You got this position because you deserved it. The person above you thought you were the perfect fit. Take an inventory of your skills and allow yourself to feel secure in your position. You worked hard for it.
- Be Comfortable with Disciplining Your Friends
Getting along exceedingly well with your former peers can have some unintended consequences. It’s wonderful if you’re able to maintain a thriving friendship at work, but it becomes problematic when that friendship gets in the way of progress. At some point, you’re going to have to discipline or in some way correct a former peer. Know that the time will come, and start considering the strategies you’ll use to best handle that situation.
- Constantly Communicate
Communication is one of the most important keys to productivity. Since the people you’re managing are your former peers, they likely already know how you communicate. If you suddenly stop communicating or abruptly change the way you deliver messages, it may cause social tension. Keep the communication flowing and be clear in your messages.
- Keep Everyone Happy
Great leaders want to celebrate everything. Group successes are just as important as individual successes. The big picture is just as important as small contributions. Do something every day to let your team know you value them. You’ll create a perfect culture and an ideal bond that makes people happy to be working where they work.
Everything will come together slowly. Although it’s a lot to get used to, the job of becoming a leader was put in your capable hands. If you become a fair and diplomatic leader, your peers will be proud of you.
Alex Lawson is a Financial Team Leader and a blogger, working together with other experts at Brighter Finance. Whenever not working on another project or helping customers with their financial issues, Alex may usually be