From Peer to Boss: Transition

Chances are if you’re making this transition then you’ve already proven yourself to be a leader. Now you need to figure out how to gain and maintain the support of your former peers as you acclimate into a rung higher on the career ladder. Concurrently, you’re learning your new role & all that comes with it as you solidify your place in the sun.


There are various factors that affect how smooth this transition becomes:

  • Climate of Posturing

When you go from being a friend to the one who can fire, its no fun for some.  If you are seen as a “skimper,” someone who allows things to be swept under the rug, or known to cut corners, you probably aren’t the one moving from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat at your workplace.  So once that seat is taken by someone who used to be a passenger, said skimper might be a bit scared of what’s to come.

Imagine being accustomed to slacking off behind the boss’ back, but now the one who knows your dirty laundry is the boss. In a climate of posturing, the way one may try to protect themselves from repercussions of poor conduct or performance is by causing disruptions elsewhere or trying to create conflict with the new boss.

Depending on the culture of your workplace you may have to be more mindful of the water-cooler talk, or cease it completely to avoid the appearance of anything said or done that could be misconstrued. There is a very distinct line between manager and peer, and it can be easily crossed for some – and cause vulnerabilities that lead to problematic and distracting situations.

No longer can you be as social as you once were, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a proper relationship with your subordinates.  You don’t have to befriend them to display understanding, encouragement, or support.  You can still be personable and you can still be nice. You just need to be fair and consistent with everyone in that same manner.  There will be days when you have to show discipline and perhaps reprimand, you have to be steadfast and impartial.

Hopefully your culture is one of trust and not one of antagonistic behavior, but in any event be mindful of the position you hold now – and in the future. Conduct yourself in a manner that garners respect and distances you from any affiliation or correlation with impropriety, partiality, or any other perceptions of less than desirable conduct or performance.

Recommended Reading: The First-Time Manager (Agency/Distributed)

  • Non-Progressive Culture

Pre-feminist movement, pre-13th amendment,  pick an era… if people are stuck in the mindsets of those times, their refusal of progressiveness will cause challenges in your transition. We cannot move forward if we’re living in the past. ‘Nuf said.

What you cannot do is change another person. What they have been through, experienced, and done has molded them into who they are now. However, what you can do is be the most inspiring, positive, productive version of yourself everyday and attract positive energy.  Eventually, with enough surrounding him/her, they will either give cause for actionable change, become overshadowed by the energy, or become the change themselves.

Recommended Reading:

Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People (Agency/Distributed)

  • Resistance to different demographics

People like to engage with individuals they feel a commonality with. Unfortunately, for some, certain commonalities are “required” for individuals to even be willing to engage. This is where the resistance due to different demographics rears it’s ugly head. Don’t loose your cool when you’re in that situation. Remember your place in this world is not tied to your place on an org chart 🙂 But your purpose in that role is tied to the growth of the team you lead – and it is best to lead by example.

Recommended Reading:

How to Manage Your Emotions Under Pressure (MEUP) manual

  • Peer Resentment

Jealousy, envy, pride… all poor uses of energy and never result in anything positive.  Transitioning from peer to boss may cause more discomfort for some – especially those who feel more entitled, deserving, [fill in the blank] for the role you’re in.  In the eye of such negativity, your best choice to take the high road.  Be aware and cognizant of the situation, the strategic actions, the posturing that may develop. Be vocal and steadfast, knowledgable, honest, diligent… all of the things that put you where you are, and all the things you’re there to develop and display.   Build a bridge with those people. Build it on positivity and effective actions, strategy and successful execution. You can’t make them see the light, but you can make them feel the heat… in a good way. So lead by example – positive example and let no emotion take you off your square.

Recommended Reading:

Managing People…What’s Personality Got To Do With It?

  • Resistance to Change

People often don’t like what they don’t understand. Most don’t appreciate what they haveunnamed (1) until its gone, so surely they cannot see the value of it off first glance. It has to develop over time. Every conflict you resolve, every obstacle you overcome, every success you lead the team to accomplish is one brick removed from that wall of resistance. You DO have to prove yourself, newbie. But the good news is – you were chosen & you can do it.

Recommended Reading: The Leader In You

As a supervisor, you now have the opportunity to effect change from a more influential and impactful level. You can choose the direction of the future. Choose to improve.


Step 1. Reman Humble

I don’t mean docile. I don’t mean submissive. I don’t mean weak.  What I mean is remember where you came from, remember what the team went through when you were in the same spot as everyone you now oversee. Remember the challenges and triumph so that you focus in on ways to fix what’s broken and expand what works. Don’t let ego and pride prevent your from reaching success.

Arrogance, “know it all” attitudes, impoliteness, ego, and pride will get you nowhere. Being a leader is about garnering trust, none of those attributes will do that.

Step 2. Remain a team player

Yes, now that you’ve move up a notch you’re technically the “head of the pack”, but that doesn’t diminish the value of your or anyone else’s contribution toward a successful future. Everyone should be valued and appreciated equally for th635946067436547134363051704_people unitedeir contributions to the tasks undertaken. The team cannot make it to the finish line relying on just one person. It takes effort from everyone to make things work. Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of everyone on the team. Communicate that appreciation, and show it via action.

Step 3. Protect and Serve

I’m not talking about the boys in blue 🙂 One priority of any leader is to protect the psychological safety of your team. Another is to remember to invest in them. People are more productive when they feel appreciated, valued, and effective.


The best way to support your employees is to give them the tools they need to be successful. Ask and Listen! Find ways to address their concerns where you can.  Protect their interests, support their needs, defend them if necessary, and keep the “noise” away from them so they can efficiently perform their duties.

When they come to you with a concern, listen. Assess, investigate, mitigate, and take action where applicable. Communicate to them. Follow-through. Build their trust in you as their leader.

Invest in their development and empower them to take ownership of their success (or failure), but never leave them. For as long as you are a part of the team, whether leader or not, show that you are by their side.  You, as a leader, are only as strong as your weakest link. Be transparent about opportunities available to them to better themselves, and coach them along the way.

Step 4: Prioritize Betterments

Let that wisdom and those lessons learned channel your innovation. Recall what ailed you when you were in the passenger seat… and what ailed everyone else? Now take that and think bigger….

What can you fix? Where are the weaknesses? Where are the strengths? Where are the points of failure? Where are the vulnerabilities?

How can you make the biggest positive impact with the quickest change? Now start strategizing. Start with “Where Do You Want To Be”… and start definitizing actions and timelines to get there. Rack and stack the actions list, recruit, and execute.

Be proactive, give clear direction. Don’t go overboard waving your scepter in the air – gracefully lead and explain the objective, recognizing their talents as reasons why you’re tasking them with their element of the execution.

Step 5: Empower Your People

Recognize the skills within your staff. Recognize their talents and their niches. Put forth the effort to find out what they’re both good at and enjoy and if at all possible – let them do more of it in ways that benefit the team. Align that with the strategy map you’ve built and let everyone participate in reaching it.  Have a vision and establish a plan. Facilitate growth of the team and modify the plan to fit capabilities.

Step 6: Promote Accountability & Proactivity

Make people accountable – in a good way as well. Reward excellence in public, counsel in private. Show compassion but exercise discipline. Be proactive in your leadership and management. See a need, fill a need. Teach them to think progressively.

Step 7: Remember Its Not About You

A necessary reminder to all bosses is that IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Successful leaders make their team the priority. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.


Treat people as humans and tasks as things – they are not one in the same.

Recommended Reading:

Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven Strategy for Building Your Own Team of Champions

It’s OK to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need

~Shed Light, Speak Life~

~D’Lorah Denise~

2 Comments Add yours

  1. dlorahdenise says:

    Thank you @artisanwebandprint! We are glad you enjoyed reading our blog and more importantly, found it useful. Follow us on Facebook @dailydoseofdsblog or on IG @dailydoseofds for more updates. Have a wonderful day! ~Shed Light~


  2. The transition to boss is one that can bring up all sorts of challenges. The perspective shift was the hardest for me, I didn’t like the idea of being someone’s boss; in part, because I hadn’t experienced a good role model. This blog was useful in reshaping my perspective and seeing the significance of being balanced, thoughtful and inspired within a leadership position.

    Liked by 1 person

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