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  • You Get Promoted, Become the Boss, Then What?

You Get Promoted, Become the Boss, Then What?

You’re a team player who recently received a promotion. Becoming the boss of your peers after you get promoted comes with its challenges. Learn how to best make this transition.
Story by Lee Stuart

One of the most difficult professional transitions anyone can make is becoming the boss, advancing from team member to supervisor or manager, especially if you become the boss of your former peers. There are several managerial myths to work through, and there is rarely a guidebook, how-to video or spreadsheet formula to help you succeed.

When people hear the words, “Congratulations, you’ve been promoted to manager,” they can feel elated, terrified, proud and confused, all at the same time.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “Becoming the Boss,” Linda Hill notes, “Organizations suffer considerable human and financial costs when a person who has been promoted […] fails to adjust successfully to managerial responsibilities.”

But things do not have to go off the rails.

Many new managers experience natural tendencies to micromanage, to maintain the status quo in previous relationships, and to remain at a detailed, operational level rather than elevating their thoughts onto a more strategic plane.

This all sounds very daunting, but embracing a few key behaviors can smooth the transition and help to ensure success. Here’s a list of some key principles to consider as you make this critical step up in organizational responsibility:

  • Understand your first obligation is to the organization, even if that means making tough decisions
  • No “new sheriff in town” attitudes
  • Enlist the help of mentors
  • Understanding the critical difference between authority and interdependency
  • Friendship is friendship but business is business
  • Your reward and incentive systems have changed from “doing a great job” to “leading a great team”

For more helpful insight in leadership and management, check out the new KU Professional Leadership Certificate.

About the Author
Lee C. Stuart, D.B.A., is the leadership programs manager at the KU Edwards Campus. He develops and delivers training on a variety of leadership, management and communications topics for working professionals. He combines years of experience as an executive in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors with the latest in scholarly thought on leadership.