Supervisory Transition: Roles, Relationships and Remarkable Principles

by Jennifer Miller on February 15, 2011

in Book Review, Leadership

A Conversation with Guy Harris on His New Book “From Bud to Boss”

Jennifer V. Miller interviews Guy Harris on the new book Bud to BossLast week I talked with Guy Harris, co-author of the new book From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership

In the book, Guy and co-author Kevin Eikenberry craft a comprehensive treatment of the topic. It’s a practical guide for helping newly promoted supervisors make the transition from peer to leader. Guy had so much great information to share with me that I’ve created two blog posts.  What follows is Part I: Supervisory Transition: Roles, Relationships and Remarkable Principles.




 JVM: Guy, welcome and thank you for joining me today.

GH: It’s a pleasure to be here.

JVM: So, how about if we start with this: Why write a book about moving from “bud” to “boss”?

GH: The story starts with a workshop that Kevin and I developed in 2009. When facilitating workshops, we would get feedback that the content we were delivering would be helpful to a much broader audience of new supervisors. What we were seeing is that so many people get promoted to a supervisory role, yet get no training. We’ve all heard the stories of the best sales person in a company being promoted to Sales Manager and now that company has lost their best sales person and hired their worst Sales Manager. Through no fault of their own, newly promoted supervisors simply don’t have the skills needed to do their job from the get-go. They haven’t had the chance to practice. This book helps address that need.

JVM: In your research for this book, what have you found to be some of the biggest challenges that people face when moving from being an individual contributor to one of formal leadership?

GH: The challenges fall into two “buckets”: roles and relationships.

There are several challenges that new supervisors face regarding what we call “role transition”. There are issues around how a person’s role changes as a leader and the skill set needed to successfully fulfill that role. New supervisors are moving from an “I’m responsible for myself” role to an “I’m responsible for the output of others’” role.

There are relationship changes that also happen in the transition and they fall into three categories:

-Your former peers (some of whom you now supervise)
-Your new peer group (including, perhaps, your former boss)
-Your new supervisor

So, a new supervisor has all these changes happening simultaneously—role transitions and relationship changes . . . and it creates some stress and frustration. Our book aims to offer a new supervisor some insights and perspective to grow supervisory skills so they can negotiate the transition much more effectively.

JVM: One of my first experiences as a supervisor was when I was promoted from within my peer group. Would you talk about the particular challenges that situation presents?

GH:  There are things demanded of the supervisory role that cause a behavioral change in the new supervisor. We’ve found that if the new supervisor doesn’t have an open, honest conversation about what those changes are, people can often misinterpret what’s driving the behavioral change. So, others start labeling it as “she [the new supervisor] thinks she’s better than me” or “you used to talk to me about things, now you don’t talk to me about them.” It’s better to put these things on the table upfront so you can head off any potential miscommunication that can lead to stress and poor performance and conflict.

So, one of our recommendations in the book is that newly promoted supervisors should be proactive in managing the transition. We suggest that they have specific conversations with each of the various groups that will be affected by the change in roles— their new team members, their new boss, their new peer group. They should be very upfront about discussing the expectations of each group and what the new role demands of the supervisor. By being proactive, the new supervisor helps minimize miscommunications.

JVM: What other interesting tidbits would you like to share about the book?

GH: In addition to roles and relationships, the book devotes a lot of time helping people develop the skills needed to be an effective supervisor in these five areas:

  • Coaching
  • Managing change
  • Communicating
  • Collaborating to build a great team
  • Goal setting

Also, through out the book, we sprinkle in what we call “Remarkable Principles” for managing those relationship changes. For example, we cover the notion of “being friendly.” We believe that a positive, friendly demeanor is the best way to lead people. Our advice is to be friendly with everyone you lead, but know where to draw the line between “being friendly” and “being friends”.  We’ve found that by being very open and clear about the relationship boundaries, a supervisor can really head off at the pass any perceptions about favoritism.

(Bloggers note: here’s a bit more about the tips Guy and Kevin call “Remarkable Principles”. From the book: “A Remarkable Principle is a key principle for all of us as leaders. In many cases, these principles move beyond leadership to human nature and life in general. They are principles that support the [book’s] text around them. When you think about and use them, they will serve as a guide to you in navigating the complex waters of leadership for the rest of your career.” p. 4)

JVM: Where can people find more about the transition to leadership?

Kevin and I have created three avenues for people to learn more:


JVM: Guy, thank you so much for your time today, and good luck with the book launch!

GH: You’re welcome.

Up next is Part II of my Interview with Guy Harris: Supervisory Influence and the DISC Model of Human Behavior

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purposes of reviewing it. It passed muster with me so I’m sharing this information with you.  Also, it would be a real drag for the Feds to show up and haul me away, so I’m following the  rules set forth by the FTC. Some of the links in the above post are affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and purchase the item (looking is free), I will receive a commission. Hey, a girl’s gotta find a way to cover her blogging habit, right?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy Pegram April 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hello – I plan to purchase this book. I recently was promoted and am facing the challenge of supervising peers and a former boss so I think this book will be helpful. One question: You suggest sitting down to discuss expectations of each group. In my situation, my role hasn’t been clearly defined to me so it’s been difficult to convey expectations to others. I was in the process of being trained by my manager when she unexpectedly had to retire. We were slowly transitioning me to my new role. Any advice? Thanks!

Jennifer Miller April 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm


My first advice- yes, do buy the book, it will help you with your question as to how to clearly define your role.

A question before I offer additional suggestions– you said your manager unexpectedly retired, so you role is not clearly defined? Have you brought this up with your new manager? The place to start is to get your new manager’s expectations on the table with questions like:

-What are the top 3 priorities you think I should focus on in the next 6 months?
-What will you accept as evidence that I’m succeeding in my new role?
-Where are the “sand traps”– people, projects, procedures that may trip me up?

Once you get the answers to these questions, then schedule a meeting with your team and ask the same 3 questions. Note the discrepencies between the two parties. It’s not unusual for people with different roles in the organization to see things differently. Having dual perspectives will help you assess the “truth” of the situation. (Realizing there are many “truths” to any organizational scenario!)

This book was written by Guy Harris and Kevin Eikenberry, so I’ll pass along your question and see if they care to comment on this blog.

Jennifer Miller April 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm


Nice to see you again! Thanks for checking in with Betsy.

We can ALL be remarkable – with a bit of guidance from those who’ve walked the path before us . . .

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