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Stepping-Up: Transitioning From Peer To An Executive Leader - Setting The Stage Part I of III

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

A team member being promoted as leader

The role you have always wanted is yours- you have been promoted from amongst a team of equally excellent performers. As your CEO said, you are the first among equals. Stepping up into this new executive leadership role within your team can be a daunting yet rewarding experience. The transition from peer to executive leader demands a profound understanding of various leadership facets.

Focusing on 10 levers can help you successfully navigate this transition and establish yourself as an inspiring, influential, and admired executive leader. This three-part article attempts to provide a clear roadmap, stating Why it's important, What needs to be done, and How it can be done.

In this first part, we will explore the first four levers that will help set the stage for a successful transition.

1. Leverage Existing Relationships and Establish a New Social Contract: Focus on Setting Boundaries

Why it's important:

Building on existing relationships is vital to maintaining trust and respect within your team. However, as a new boss, you must establish a new social contract to define roles and maintain professionalism.

What needs to be done:

  • Recognize the existing rapport: Acknowledge the camaraderie and trust you've built as peers.

  • Define new boundaries: Communicate the shift in roles and responsibilities.

  • Set expectations: Discuss what your team can expect from you and what you expect from them.

How it can be done:

Open and honest communication is vital. Be respectful, empathetic, and transparent in your approach.

2. Finding Your Right Leadership Tone: Being Authentic

Why it's important:

As you transition from being a peer to an executive leader, finding the right leadership tone is crucial for gaining the respect and trust of your team. It sets the tone for your future leadership journey, making it essential to reintroduce yourself in your new role and address any awkwardness effectively.

What needs to be done:

  • Reintroduce yourself in your new role: Let your team know that while your position has changed, your commitment to their success remains.

  • Address awkwardness: Openly acknowledge any discomfort your colleagues may feel about your new role.

  • Be authentic: Be yourself, and don't try to be someone you're not. Authenticity builds trust.

  • Acknowledge the team's contribution: Recognize the value your team brings to your leadership journey.

  • Address career aspirations: Discuss how you'll support their professional growth within the team.

How it can be done:

Organize a team meeting or one-on-one discussions to introduce your new role. Be transparent about any awkwardness and be genuine in your approach. Recognize your team's efforts and express your commitment to helping them reach their career goals.

3. Communicate Consistently With Clarity

Why it's important:

Consistent communication is the cornerstone of effective leadership. As you transition to a leadership role, proactive and transparent communication is vital for maintaining the trust and ensuring your team's success.

What needs to be done:

  • Proactive 1-on-1 and team meetings: Schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide guidance.

  • Personalized communication: Tailor your communication style to each team member's preferences and needs.

  • Be transparent: Share important information, including both successes and challenges.

  • Two-way communication: Encourage your team to voice their thoughts, concerns, and ideas by creating a safe space for sharing success and voicing differing opinions.

How it can be done:

In your regular schedule of individual and team meetings, actively listen to your team's input and concerns. Be open, honest, and transparent in your discussions. Create an environment where your team feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and knowing their voices are heard. Focus on what's good for the business. Be objective- at all times.

4. Establishing A Confident Leadership Presence with Humility

Why it's important:

Confidence in your leadership role is essential but must be balanced with humility. A confident and humble leader gains the respect and trust of their team. Awareness of and overcoming feelings of inadequacy or impostor syndrome is critical, as it can undermine your and the team's confidence in your leadership abilities.

What needs to be done:

Embrace confidence and humility: Strike a balance between self-assuredness and the willingness to learn and grow.

  • Watch out for impostor syndrome: Recognize when self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy creep in.

  • Overcome impostor syndrome: Develop strategies to overcome impostor syndrome, such as focusing on your accomplishments and seeking support when needed. You can read about overcoming impostor syndrome in the article From Self-Doubt to Success: Embracing Your Leadership Identity.

How it can be done:

Confidence with humility means acknowledging that you don't have all the answers. Be open to learning from your team and peers. When impostor syndrome surfaces, remind yourself of your achievements and seek support from mentors or colleagues who can provide guidance and reassurance.

These four levers will help you set the stage as you begin your transition to being the leader of your peer group. Share the activities that have worked for you as you transitioned from a peer to an executive leader. Your learnings will be helpful to others.

The next part will explore how to deal with resentment and resistance, build trust, and delegate appropriately. Stay tuned.


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