Getting promoted is reason to celebrate so hopefully, that’s what you do first! Then what? Let’s say this promotion involves managing people – maybe even people who used to be your peers. What can you do – starting right away – to succeed in this new role?

Act with Confidence. When in charge, take charge. Don’t act like you have something to prove. You’ve already proven it. Give direction in a matter-of-fact way. Make it clear through your conversational tone and relaxed demeanor that you expect people to follow your direction. Don’t give direction apologetically, and don’t be afraid to rock the boat by making positive changes. Good managers and leaders improve things, and improvement requires change.

Ask questions. Not just any questions. Now that you’re a manager, it’s easier for your questions to become rhetorical or instructive – statements in the form of a question. Make sure your questions are open-ended so you don’t steer the answers in the way you ask the question. Express genuine interest, curiosity and vulnerability. Ask questions without knowing what the answer will be. Ask questions with a sincere desire to learn. This shows respect for the experience and expertise of the people on your team, which makes them feel valued and increases trust.

Hold People Accountable. If you’ve been promoted to a position of leadership, don’t try to maintain your status as “one of the team.” Your relationship with the people on your team has changed. You can still be friends. In fact, we encourage that! But you can’t allow your former peers to take unfair advantage of your friendship. You must hold people accountable. Clarify that you intend to be an ally, not a judge, but hold people accountable because doing so will enhance their growth and the growth of the team.

Keep an Open Door and an Open Mind. Give each person you manage the time they need, when they need it. Doing so builds trust and demonstrates that they matter to you. Ask people for their opinions, input and help. This demonstrates your respect for their knowledge, experience and capabilities. Express gratitude when people make a positive difference. When you encounter undesirable attitudes or behaviors, keep an open mind. Seek first to understand why and work from there.

Actively Help People Grow. As a manager, your central responsibility is to help other people do their best work. Ask questions to help understand people’s unique aspirations, motivations and needs. Then work actively to help each person make progress on his or her individual goals. Ask how you can help. Then, do what your asked to do as quickly as you possibly can. When the people you manage succeed, you succeed, and you grow through helping them grow.

+ Larry Sternberg, J.D. and Kim Turnage, Ph.D.


Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage are authors of Managing to Make a Difference: How to Engage, Retain & Develop Talent for Maximum Performance, a handbook for how to hit the sweet spot of middle management. As senior leaders with Talent Plus, Inc., they have been trusted advisors to hundreds of business leaders on how to select, retain and develop top talent. Learn more at http://managetomakeadifference.com/

SCROLL TO TOP