Maybe you’ve just been promoted or you’ve won a new job in another organization and now… You’re in charge of a team!
It’s exciting and it’s also slightly terrifying – we know, we’ve been there.
There are new expectations and people are going to be looking to you for direction and guidance. Not only that, you’ll be held responsible if things don’t run smoothly. Your work is going to be very visible.
So what can you do to ensure early success?
First, remember – there are good reasons that you were chosen to step up. You’ve demonstrated leadership potential.
Early in his career, our founder Patrick was handed leadership responsibilities pretty quickly and we’ve talked before about how what worked to help him climb the ranks as a leader evolved over time.
There are, however, a few things that are consistent among great leaders and managers and can be applied by new and seasoned leaders alike.
We’re not going to hand you platitudes like “lead by example” and “communicate clearly” — those are obvious and frankly, not always helpful. We thought, instead, we’d put together a list of 8 more specific and maybe lesser known tips that might be helpful as you make your mark with your new position, team, or, organization.
1. Use a coach approach
Sometimes you have to be directive, sometimes you have to be decisive, but often taking a coach approach is a good approach. In it’s simplest form, that means asking open, curiosity-based questions to help staff solve their own problems. By open, we mean questions that don’t have a predictable answer. Asking, “What time will you be finished that report?” isn’t open, nor is, “Can you take on this new challenge?”. Try things like, “What were you thinking might work with this challenge? What implications might that have? What are you concerned about if you do it that way?”
2. Lead the vision
It can be hard to keep the organizational vision at the forefront in daily decisions but if you’re able to and successful at communicating that, it will help put your decisions into context for the team. This helps create alignment, cohesiveness, and loyalty. And, it helps you and your team stay focused on the bigger picture goals.
3. Establish an approachable feedback mechanism
Open-door policies are great and making your team feel like they can come and talk to you when they have something to discuss is certainly valuable. But, more than that, asking for specific feedback on particular areas and making sure that there is an approachable way to provide feedback will help you avoid lip service. I guess what we’re saying is – be not only open to feedback – seek it out.
If you’re worried about looking inexperienced or weak with your team there are couple things you can do:
- Accept that you’re new and so folks already know you’re still learning
- Use questions to engage — ask things like, “What would be helpful to you on this?” or “How can I be more helpful to you to help you accomplish this?”
4. Consider how you’re being received
Imagine you’re the employee wanting to make a good impression with the new manager. How are they hearing you and/or seeing you? If you’ve been promoted and your team used to be your colleagues, how might they be feeling? How will you show them you appreciate their contributions and you value them working with you?
5. Recognize good work
It may seem like leadership 101 to make sure to give props where props are due but this one comes with a twist.
Not only is it important to thank, praise, and call attention to good work, it’s important to do it in the way that the specific employee appreciates. For example, perhaps you have an introverted staff member who prefers a one-on-one conversation to talk about successes. Don’t, then, call attention to that person in the middle of an organizational-wide meeting. Instead, give them a sincere thanks privately, one on one.
6. Engage your team on decisions
This doesn’t mean consensus-based decision making; as a leader, the decision, in the end, is often ultimately up to you. But, the more people you engage and the points of view you hear, the more solid and well-rounded your decisions will be. Not to mention — the ripple effects on morale for engaging your team and including them in important decisions.
7. Promote lifelong learning
You may have a lot of experience and you may even have a lot of education to pair with that experience but there is never an end to what you can learn and the source of learning can be any person or any situation.Look for opportunities every day to learn from those around you.
8. Get a mentor
Self-awareness is a very important and attractive leadership quality. Knowing and accepting where you are in your leadership journey will only help you grow. Find someone with a leadership style that you aspire to and see if they’re open to being a mentor. Determine a clear set of goals and check in with them regularly. Find someone you know will be not only supportive but also very honest with you.
Coach’s Question: What can you do today to up your game as a new leader? Which of these tips resonate with you?