Buddy to Boss

Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.
— Seth Godin

Does your organization struggle to promote new leaders effectively into their new role?  Recently I was leading a training of a new group of leaders moving from “buddy to boss.”  We talked about the need to shift from exclusively ‘doing’ to achieving results through directing, delegating, motivating and empowering others.  This is often where new leaders fall down in their effectiveness.  Here are some areas that are critical to address for successful leadership and strong career advancement:

  • Increase self-awareness and awareness of others.  This is foundation for emotional intelligence.

  • Develop the ability to engage, coach and develop others.  If done well, it eliminates the need for a formal performance evaluation--the most hated of all HR processes.

  • Learn how to create a spark in their creativity and innovation.  There is a myth that some people are not creative.  They key here is to create an environment where learning can flourish.   

  • Engage in difficult conversations; the ability to provide feedback and hold others accountable for results.  This skill is quite challenging for some.  Have a method or formula to do this is essential for developing this competency.

  • Manage through change and maintain resiliency.    If your business is not changing, then it is not growing and will become stagnate and obsolete. 


Despite how critical this role is to the overall effectiveness of teams and organizations, over 80% of those who try to transition to their first leadership role fail to make the shift successfully.  Often new leaders receive training a long time after their promotion leading them and their teams to stumble.  The best employers set their high potentials up for success, by training them well in advance of their promotion, so they can hit the ground running without missing a beat.  Strong leaders can drive your business forward when they are highly engaged, proactive and armed with tools to lead. 

7 Tips for the Newly Promoted

If you change your thinking you will change your life.
— Annette Matthies

In my work as a consultant, I have found numerous companies who have promoted their best and brightest. The problem is that those high potentials, while once capable individual contributors, do not possess basic managerial skillsets to lead and mentor teams into the future.  They become disengaging to their teams and struggle to achieve team goals. Here are 7 tips for newly promoted managers to become more effective at leading:

  1. Figure out your management style-Become self-aware of your strengths and opportunities for growth and put a development plan in place for yourself.

  2. Learn to delegate-Giving up control of a project may feel scary.  When you learn to delegate effectively you will foster a sense of ownership and trust which will results in higher employee engagement.

  3. Relationships and results matter. Becoming a manager means that you now need to accomplish your goals through others.  Don’t trade relationships for results.  Focusing on your team and maintaining strong relationships will help forge a path for better results.

  4. Understand your expectations- Many leaders have a set idea of what they are looking for with their team results.  If you have expectations be sure to clearly communicate this up front to help avoid frustration and disengagement.  

  5. Focus on what not how-When you assign goals, be sure to look at what the outcome needs to look and feel like and avoid telling how the work needs to be done. 

  6. Find a mentor- Someone who has walked the walk before you and can help you avoid the potholes and guide you to the easy path.

  7. Get some training-Over and over I have found that newly promoted managers do not come into the role with any managerial training.  They have been good individual contributors that have been promoted.  Get some training on basic skills like:  how to have a difficult conversation, giving feedback, holding others accountable, developing your direct reports, managing through change, effective coaching skills, etc