5 Tips for First-Time Leaders

Leadership Tips

Being the new guy or gal in any situation is always hard (unless you’re in a sports-themed Disney movie, in which case it’s the only way your team will go to state).It’s intimidating, for one, and it’s likely others won’t trust you at first. This is especially true of people placed in team leadership positions for the first time. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, there are five tips to improve your management skills and help you better transition and become a more effective in your first-time team leadership position.

1. Over-Communicate

It’s inevitable that, on your first day on the job, the team members are going to be at least a little apprehensive about new team leadership; what are you going to change, or in what new direction are you going to take everyone? The best thing to do straight out of the gate it to be as completely transparent as possible—even if you have no idea what you’re doing. You have been put in that position for a reason, so don’t be afraid to lay out a 30-day plan. Make sure the team knows you’re open to learn and what you want to evaluate. Transparency usually works both ways, so while you develop trust with the team you’re managing, your team will be more candid with you.

2. Ask Questions

This ties in to the over-communicating. In fact, one of the first things you can tell your team is to come up with as many questions as they can to ask you on the first day. Likewise, about 50 percent of the words that come out of your mouth should end in a question mark in the beginning. Consider the difference between a “knower” and a “learner”: a knower assumes he or she already knows everything and has all the answers, while a learner will admit they don’t, even if they have plenty of applicable experience. Being genuinely excited to learn and develop as a leader builds trust and credibility, and makes you more approachable as a manager.

3. Figure out What People Really Want to Do

Get to know the people you manage. You will probably find out at least a few of them have untapped or underutilized talents and skills in their current position. If need be, create a role that’s more suitable for them. Changes in role definition can turn a high-potential employee into the rock star that every first-time manager dreams of discovering.

4. Get Your Hands Dirty

Spend some time doing the exact same work your team does. You’ll establish yourself as one who leads by example, while at the same time develop yourself by learning about the challenges your team faces on a daily basis. You could go one step further and volunteer members of your team to work in different departments of your organization so that they can better understand the whole picture. Once you understand what it’s fundamentally like to be on the front lines, you’ll gain a unique perspective which will enable you to make better, big picture decisions.

5. Be Decisive

Once you have a feel for what goes on in the team, lay out your vision and begin moving toward it immediately. Yes, this is hard to do when you’re new, but having completed the previous actions, your team should trust you by now. They will trust you more when you are confident in your decision making. Remember, you were placed in a leadership role for a reason.

Everyone may be uncomfortable at first—both you and the team—when someone new is put in charge. But change must happen, and you’re put in the distinctive role of making decisions that will affect further change. Make the most of it, and make the transition as easy as possible by following the tips listed above to improve your team leadership and management skills

If you would like learn more about how you can enhance the learning of a new leader in your business or organization, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.