Leading Former Colleagues Who Resent Your Promotion | #LeadershipSkills

Leading former colleagues and peers who resent your promotion seems like a huge challenge. It will be if you focus on how much they resent you. It won’t be if you shift your view to new horizon and take them with you. Here are the steps to leading former colleagues who wish they had gotten your job.



Leading Former Colleagues Who Resent Your Promotion: Image is angry looking crab

Leading Former Colleagues Who Resent Your Promotion. Image by Richard Wellis Sinyem via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by Richard Wellis Sinyem via Flickr Creative Commons License.


Mindset for Leading Former Colleagues

First of all, admit to yourself that …

  • It’s normal for your former peers to be disappointed.

  • Yet, you got and deserve the promotion.

  • Still, you must be willing to listen, empathize, learn and not be a dictator.

  • Most of all, you can show them a wonderful new path but they will choose whether to travel it with you.


Steps to Lead Your Former Peers & Colleagues

  1. Let them know how glad you are they you all know each other. “We’ve worked together and we know each other. I am grateful because it’s key to our success.

  2. Ask them what types of work or projects would they like to focus on going forward. In other words, what do they want to do?

  3. Highlight their individual talents that have been underappreciated. Explain how those talents are very important to the work ahead.

  4. Share your vision not just about the work goals but also about teamwork and your role.

  5. Listen to their feedback and ask for questions. Ask them, “How great can we be together?” Introduce this new horizon to help them choose something other than resentment of you.

  6. Offer to meet with them individually. This gives them the option to express their thoughts or concerns privately.


Leading Former Colleagues: Be Prepared for These Moments

    When they say …

  • “They have passed me over for so many promotions and now I have to watch you become my boss!” Empathize with them and help move them forward. “I would be frustrated too. Yet now that I am in this position, let’s talk about what you really want to do and steps to getting you there.”

  • “I have seniority and yet they gave you the promotion.” Acknowledge and show the new horizon. “You do have seniority. Yet, they made the promotion decision based on many factors including new paths they want to take.” Highlight their specific skills and talents that will be vital to success.


  • And the most direct statement …

  • “I should have gotten the promotion, not you.” “It’s true that I got the job. I now also have the heavy responsibility that goes with it. Do you want more responsibility? Let’s talk about what you want in your career now.” This response helps the other person see the promotion not just as a perk but also as responsibility. Show them a different picture than the one that is stuck in their mind. Help them view this next stage as new opportunity for them.



Leading Former Colleagues: Image is quote A leader is someone who demonstrates what's possible. Mark Yarnell"

“A leader is someone who demonstrates what’s possible.” ~ Mark Yarnell





What challenges have you faced when moving from being a peer to being the leader?



From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

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©2022 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


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