Developing Your Career

Career

Four Tips for Making the Transition from Individual Contributor to Manager

By Lee Hecht Harrison on October 6, 2014

You’ve worked hard to prove yourself and it’s finally paid off:  You’ve been promoted to a management role. But after ascending to the position, you’ve noticed an uncomfortable shift in the way your colleagues are responding to you. They may have become distant, limiting personal conversations to routine small talk. Or maybe you’ve found that the break room chatter dies down when you enter. Why has your once convivial workplace become a minefield of awkwardness?

Making the transition from one of the team to team leader can present some unique challenges – but also some distinct advantages. Here are four tips for easing into a leadership position:

  1. Set boundaries. Relationships evolve, and you’ll need to be aware when a shift has taken place. That means colleagues may not be as open with you. Stay above the fray; don’t engage in gossip or make disparaging comments about the organization or other team members. This is how you build trust.
  2. Develop executive presence. Leadership success often hinges on the ability to communicate effectively, command respect and persuade your team to follow you. This requires maturity, strong presentation skills and authenticity. Remember to use clear language and positive body language that conveys passion and enthusiasm.
  3. Identify a mentor. Discuss team challenges with an impartial outsider who is at your level or above. A mentor can act as a sounding board to help you resolve touchy interpersonal situations, as well as provide some constructive coaching.
  4. Ask for leadership training. Many managers are promoted without any leadership training. If training or coaching isn’t available through your employer, take it upon yourself to follow top leadership experts (Harvard Business Review, Forbes, McKinsey Insights).

Make the transition to leadership easier by honing an executive presence, arming yourself with knowledge, developing your leadership skills and building a culture of trust.

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