Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

Moving Up: When Co-Workers Become Subordinates by Jane Schulte

Have you been recently promoted? Did you pass up your co-workers and now sit in a position where you are their supervisor? If so, you may likely be feeling a bit uncomfortable and unsure as to how to shine in your new role without alienating your co-workers, who are likely your friends as well.

First, be honest with them. Tell them that you are feeling a bit anxious about taking on the new role and that you want to maintain the same, positive relationships that you enjoyed before your promotion.

Ask them directly if they will be on your team and together if they will strive for the team to succeed.

If you do sense one of the team members has developed a less than positive attitude, take them aside and ask questions until you can determine what it is they are feeling that is causing the behavior. Assure them that you are on their side and want to allow them to grow and develop and get promoted as well.

Continue to conduct yourself in a manner that reinforces these messages. Look for ways to bring the successes of your team members to the attention of upper management. Find team building exercises you can incorporate on a regular basis that strengthen the group as a whole. Do not engage in behavior that separates you from your team or makes any member of the team feel at any given time that you are in this for yourself.

The more you can encourage and assist each team member in learning, growing and shining, the more likely they will accept you as a leader, perform well under your leadership and see the change as a win/win situation for everyone.

If after all of these efforts you still have a former co-worker who is not on board, it may be time to discuss with upper management a transfer of that individual to another department, assuming they are a solid employee from a work product standpoint. However, if this individual’s attitude has soured to the point that they will continue to be unhappy even once transferred, then it may be time for them to move on.

Remember that leaders don’t manage. Leaders lead and they do so by example. If you want people to follow you, exhibit behaviors that are worthy of emulating. Maintain a positive attitude each day, even if you are overwhelmed, stressed or feeling a lot of pressure in your new role. But above all, be interested in each of your team members both personally and professionally. Make sure they are feeling good and positive and help them obtain the necessary tools and information in order to be their best and to shine every day.

Truly listen to them and address their concerns, incorporate their ideas and give them the credit for the team’s performance even when the compliment is directed at you. That is how you get co-workers to not only accept your new promotion, but to support you each and every day and every step of the way!
Jane Schulte is the founder of PRISM Business Advisors located in Greater Cincinnati. She is also the Author of WORK SMART, Not Hard! and BOLD Leadership. Please visit or more information.

-what else would you add to the discussion above? What additional ideas would you like to share which would help the new manager/leader who finds themselves in the example above?