Leadership Transition: from Team Member to Team Leader

Transitioning from a team member to a team leader is quite challenging. To others, it means that you change from a colleague into a boss overnight. If you want to make it swift, you need to find balance. Express your gratitude and present your leadership skills without overly boasting about your promotion; be friendly but don’t try to please everyone; maintain good relationships but don’t try to become friends with everyone. This might be difficult at first, but finding the golden means will help you thrive in your new role.

The Challenges of Transitioning from Team Member to Team Manager

Let’s start with the obstacles that you’ll need to overcome when transitioning from a co-worker to a manager. There are quite a few of them, so we’ve formed them into a short list.

Coping with the Changes

Whether you change from an interim role to a full-time position or you get promoted from an intern to a junior specialist, the changes are less paramount than when you become a manager. Learning new procedures and being responsible for the performance of the whole team might initially seem scary. This is your first obstacle.

This fear may block you or at least slow you down, so the faster you get rid of it, the more quickly you will evolve in your new role.

Maintaining Relationships

Transitioning from team member to team manager is also difficult in terms of relationships. You become the boss of your colleagues, and keeping it friendly while ensuring that the team is productive is a major challenge.

If you don’t set clear boundaries, your team won’t be productive; if you try to distance yourself from your former co-workers too much, they will dislike you, which might affect the atmosphere and motivation. Simply, maintaining healthy relationships within your team requires you to find the middle ground.

High Expectations

High expectations set by the upper management are yet another challenge that you will face. Your boss, believing that you, as a new manager, will bring innovative solutions and improvements, might expect you to achieve overambitious goals. As a result, you might be tempted to try to forcibly change those elements of your team’s procedures that are just fine.

transitioning from team member to team manager

How to Transition from Team Member to Team Leader Smoothly?

What can you do to ensure that your transition from team member to team leader is as smooth and seamless as possible? Here is some advice:

Be Transparent

Don’t be afraid to tell your bosses if the goals are unattainable, and communicate with your team members openly. Transparency is one of the top skills of influential CEOs for a reason, so you should embrace it even in low-level management.

Find the Golden Means in Your Relationships

Set clear boundaries with your team members to show them that you are the same person, but at the same time, you’re their manager now, and this changes the dynamics, at least in work-related cases.

Don’t Micromanage Your Team Members

You might feel the urge to tell your colleagues what to do but resist it. Instead, have an open conversation with the whole team and tell them what you expect. This way, they won’t feel that you’ve become arrogant, and you will still be able to improve the processes within your team.

The Takeaway

Transitioning from team member to team leader might be challenging since it means a lot of changes that you may fear and turns the dynamics in your team upside-down. Yet, by being transparent, finding the middle ground in your relationships, and avoiding micromanaging, you can make this shift swift and start developing your management skills early on.

You may also read: How to Deal with Job Burnout

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