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As difficult as it is to be successful in a new leadership role, things quickly get complicated when you are asked to manage those who were previously your peers or superiors. A whole new set of problems enter the manager-employee equation in these situations. Training is rarely provided to help navigate the unique and trying challenges that will no doubt encountered. 

Your direct reports likely fall into one of three categories: Advocates, Detractors, or Fence-sitters. All of which need to be identified and appropriately engaged and managed if you are to succeed.

It is relatively easy to work with Advocates. They are your supporters and want to see you do well. They err on giving you the benefit of the doubt and look for the positive in everything you do. They are likely your most manageable group.


Detractors include those who think that they should be the leader. They question whether you possess the necessary maturity, skills, and experience to lead the group. They actively seek confirmatory evidence to support their opinions. What's more, they are quick to tell others about your mistakes, missteps, and shortcomings. They may resist or work against you, overtly or covertly.  They are tough to manage and difficult to convert to Advocates. You may struggle with whether it is worth the effort to keep them around. 


The Fence-sitters are often cautious or disengaged and take a wait and see approach. They do not give you the benefit of the doubt, nor do they actively work against you. Some never move from this non-committed fence-sitter state, but most gradually transition into either the Advocate or Detractor role. You are well aware that you should spend time strengthing your relationship with the fence-sitters to convert them to Advocates. But this is easier said than done.


Being the boss is a very lonely place, and placing professional boundaries on the relationships with those who were your peers or superiors is extremely difficult. This loneliness is particularly challenging when you have assumed significant management responsibility for the first time. Who do you turn to for advice? Who do you trust and count on? Why have your relationships deteriorated? These are questions that you may struggle to answer. 


Our Executive Coaches work with you to craft realistic, actionable leadership plans. As independent and objective advisors, our Executive Coaches will help you engage and motivate employees en route to developing a high-performing team. And, perhaps more importantly, help you make the right decisions regarding how best to handle those who can't or won't get with the program. 

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