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6 Leadership Lessons for a New Leader

I remember when I first became a leader of a team.  I went to a training class for three days to learn how to be a leader.  I learned a lot of things at that first session, but I didn’t have a whole lot of real life experience to apply at that point.   However, I took those lessons to heart and began to lead my first team.  Even though I tried really hard, I made many mistakes along the way.   I am really grateful to all of my managers, direct reports and peers who gave me feedback to help me to get better.   I listened, changed my behavior and improved once I learned what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Here are some of the lessons that I learned:

  1. Set your team up for success.   When you get a new team, meet with them and let them ask questions about your style as a leader and your expectations.  Take the opportunity to share a little about yourself and learn about them too.

  2. You need to get things done through others.   This is a big paradigm shift for a leader of a team.  You need to trust your team to do the work now because there is no way that you can do it all anymore.

  3. Trust your gut.  There will be many times that you need to make tough decisions and at times be the one to take a big risk.   Weigh out the different options that you have, but sometimes you have to take the risk to do what needs to be done.   You will never have 100% of the information that you need, so you have to trust your experience, the information that you have and do what is best for the organization.

  4. Use your voice Ask questions, make recommendations and share information.  Your management hired you for a reason and they are looking for you to share what you know.  They are not into the details enough at times to know the impacts of decisions that they have to make.  They rely on you to help them with the details of what the impacts are of the available options.   It is okay to ask for help if you don’t have the answer or you get stuck.  It is much better to ask for help from others then fall behind while you struggle to figure it out yourself.

  5. Delegate to your team.  Think about the things that you have on your to-do list and identify those that would be good opportunities for your team.  What would help to give them exposure?  What would help them grow and develop?   Agree on the outcomes, but don’t tell them how to do things.   Ask for meetings to check in on their progress and be there for guidance, but don’t take it over and to the work for them.  Give them feedback and challenge their thinking to help them develop their own leadership skills.

  6. Set a good example.   Composure is important and you need to maintain it.   Staying calm during high-pressure situations will ensure that your team stays calm.  If they see you getting upset then they will question if things are going wrong and may jump to unwarranted conclusions.

 Setting your team with a strong foundation is crucial for any team to build trust and be successful.   I have some resources that I would recommend to help you in this area.

  • To help you with item #1.   You can download my free resource to help you with the step by step process at  Free Resource to Set Your Team Up for Success.  This resource will give you all the steps necessary for a good alignment session to build a strong foundation, help the team move forward towards a common vision, set expectations, and allow for more open communication.

  • One of the books I recommend is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.  This is a leadership book told in a fable format about a team that was very dysfunctional and the leader who was tasked with bringing them together.   Another book that I recommend is “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith.  It helps you think about being a leader of people vs just leading yourself.   You can see these books and other leadership books and articles at my website page  Leadership Resources.

Remember this is a journey to be a strong leader for your team.  It won’t happen overnight and it requires learning on your part and being open to feedback to improve.   If you would like my help as you transition to a new role, please reach out to me at Schedule an Appointment

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