The ultimate compliment is people wanting to advance their career by staying in the same organization they’ve come to know and love. It’s all good until this awkward moment when the excitement of applying for a leadership position is hit with an awareness that current friends will become direct reports. You’re switching sides and there’s no going back.

In reality, the friends probably made the connection as soon as the application was filled out and announced to the world. Clients in education and business who have experienced this tell me they quickly notice conversations around them become more reserved and less candid. After all, anything you hear may be passed on to management so, choose your words carefully.

When interviewing for clients, my team hears young emerging leaders struggle with this issue from time to time. The fact they struggle is a good sign because they want to lead while maintaining a good relationship with their peers turned employees. The difference is in how emerging leaders view authority.

In the new leader’s mind, does respect come from the authority of position and telling people what to do? Or is respect built naturally as an adult developer genuinely seeking to bring out the best in the talents of the team? Although some decisions will rest on this new leader, the best tell me they aren’t made alone, in a vacuum, or just among administrators or managers. Most plans and decision are made in a collaborative dance that brings out the thinking and creative solutions of shared wisdom.

Emerging leaders who “switch sides” to supervise others can begin to relax when their job is to serve the growth and success of their team. It’s not really about you as a leader, it’s about making your team shine. So, stop sweating the switch and start enjoying the genuine authority that is given out of deep respect for your commitment to care for and serve your teammates.

Life is a team sport. Coach your team to lead each other so it doesn’t come as a shock when they get a new title.