How New Leaders Can Handle Resentment


If you’ve earned a promotion to a leadership position because you were a good performer as an individual contributor, you may end up getting more than a promotion. It’s not uncommon for a new leader to become the target of resentment as they leave the ranks of the team to become the leader of the team.

Going from team player to team coach can be tricky, but hiding from resentful people will only make things worse. Show you’re in charge but willing to work with them using these tips:

  1. Don’t feel guilty about being promoted. Yes, be humble, but remember you earned it. 
  2. Accept that everyone might not like you--it’s the nature of being the boss.
  3. Avoid favoritism at all costs-- especially with friends who are now your direct reports.
  4. Meet with the team as soon as possible. Share your goals and expectations and ask for their input.
  5. Surface any resentment privately in one-on-one meetings. Address the feelings directly but with compassion.
  6. Work hard, pitch in, and be sure not to hold on to your own resentments.

As a leader, the best approach is to model the very behavior you want to see in your team.

Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 


About the Author

Todd Davis

Todd Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, training and training development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Todd is currently a member of the FranklinCovey Executive Team where he serves as the Chief People Officer. He is also a bestselling author with two books to his credit, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations for Tapping the Unlimited Potential of People.

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