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3 Leadership Communication Tips to Guide You From Peer to Leader

Posted by Sandy Yu on 7.9.2019

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Congratulations on your recent promotion! You worked hard to get here. The hours you put in and successful projects you’ve completed have not gone unnoticed. Even more importantly, your ability to lead has been recognized -- and now here you are, officially promoted.

You’ve likely noticed, while this is a time of celebration and excitement, it’s also complicated. Those who you once worked side-by-side with on projects are now the employees you’ll be leading. If relationships with co-workers weren’t complex enough, this throws a bigger curve into the road. 

Some leaders overcompensate by being stern and impersonal. They want everyone to recognize that they’re no longer on the same level and attempt to demand respect, rather than earn it. Others fear insulting colleagues they consider friends. They know why they received a promotion but lack the confidence to take on every aspect of the role and, therefore, seem like pushovers. 

The goal is to find a balance between the two. That sweet spot in the middle where you’re respected and employees feel safe coming to you with a problem. This oasis, however, can’t be discovered without the correct leadership communication strategy. With the right approach, you can take this promotion and your new team to the next level. 

Here are three tips you need to follow to ensure you’re communicating effectively as a newly-promoted leader:

1. Set the new tone

Going from buddy to boss is no easy task. There’s a dynamic shift in your working-relationship that must occur, especially when it comes to leadership communication. The tone must switch from friend to leader. 

However, this must be done in a cautious manner. The tone must evolve in a respectful, non-arrogant way to ensure your new team honors your transition. This is crucial as you’ll now be offering feedback and making tough decisions that impact their careers

Start by avoiding water cooler chatter. You really must refrain from any form of gossip, especially about work or conversations that cross the line into overtly personal. You can still remain approachable by explaining that your door is always open if they need to talk to you. 

Also, show employees that the tone isn’t just changing for how you approach them. They also have new power in the form of offering feedback to you as a leader. Ask for their opinions on processes and be open to change based on their comments. 

This alters the tone of your relationships while also keeping the lines of open communication flowing.

2. Lay out clear expectations

Do you now prefer to be called “sir” or “ma’am?” Probably not. But there are new expectations that you’ll inevitably have to share with your team. To do this, you’ll have to follow the first role in leadership communication -- transparent and honest dialogue. 

Open employee communication regarding expectations empowers you to remove tension before it can fester and grow. The most important keyword here is “dialogue.” Lay out what you expect from employees when it comes to goals, communication, deadlines, and so on. Then, allow employees to discuss how they like to approach goals -- or the type of communication they prefer and how they like leaders to coach them. 

Following this dialogue approach puts you in the ideal leadership position. You’re transparently telling employees what you expect from them. At the same time, you’ll earn their respect by giving them the opportunity to share their expectations in return.

3. Continue collaborating as a peer

You’re a leader, not a dictator. If you haven’t already found out, you’ll quickly learn that leaders who aren’t afraid to ask for help and treat everyone as their intellectual peers are the most successful. 

As you grow into your new leadership role, don’t outgrow collaboration. Get out on the floor and brainstorm with your team. Send emails regarding your own project challenges and ask for help to resolve the issues. Show your former peers that you’re still onboard for executing the same powerful teamwork you previously achieved with them. 

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Topics: leadership communication

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