Promotion from Within… Is It Your Best Option?

Harold was promoted from within. On his first day, he came in dressed as the boss. Practically overnight he pulled a Jekyll & Hyde where everyone wondered what had happened. He went shopping over the weekend for a new wardrobe, got a haircut, and ditched the ball cap. His former teammates said, “what’s gotten in to him?”, “It’s gone to his head?” 

You wanted the promotion and finally got it. You’ve worked hard and have now been recognized for your achievements. Now it’s time to transition from a peer to the leader of your team

Leading former peers is no walk in the park.

At first you might think it would be easy. You “know” everyone, the team’s goal, and have observed your predecessor. Now you’re in the captain’s seat. What next?

This must be played very carefully:

– Your social network changes

– Others don’t take you seriously as their new boss because they knew you as their peer – one of them

– Instead of following, you’re now leading

As a former individual contributor, now you’re responsible for the overall results of your team

– Others know your weaknesses, maybe better than you do

– Others know your buttons to push

– You have an alliance with some, but perhaps not with others

Don’t underestimate the challenge of now leading your former teammates.

Attention Leaders: Thought leaders advise to promote from within. After all, what better way to recognize and inspire your team. Agreed. Now what?

After the parade and accolades, too often we leave our top talent to their own devices.

Insure the success of your tried and true by providing them with a structure to get off to a great start. Now is not th time to abandon them.

I’ve seen more careers ruined because of a promotion to a leadership position than not.

Here are some tips to smooth this transition:

1st: Acknowledge upfront that stepping back is not an option. Nor is a trial position where the honeymoon effect is real and that anyone can fake it for a short time.

2nd: Deal swiftly and firmly with the opposition. Where others who may have also been considered for the position, be empathetic, clarify your expectations and move on.

3rd: Execute a transition plan quickly – helping your new leaders observe and discover, navigate potential “landmines”, and facilitate their alignment with key players.


Dave Baker

Dave Baker is the founder and CEO at Palmetto Leadership Center in Anderson, SC. He has been helping manufacturing site leaders get results for more than 25 years to improve their organization's culture, performance, and workforce engagement to effectively execute their strategy. His experience spans a variety of manufacturing environments including the automotive, pharmaceutical, and wood products industries. He can be reached directly at (864) 902-4400 or ;

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