4 Tips For New Leaders

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

You may have had this experience: You started working at a corporate job as an individual contributor on a team. After years of getting “exceeds expectations” on your performance reviews, you’re finally promoted to manage a team of your own. “Finally!” you think, as you prepare for more responsibility, respect, and a bigger paycheck. On your first day in your new role, you learn how to approve payroll and log into the budget. End of new leader training.

The lack of transition training for individual contributors becoming managers is so prevalent 90% ​​of respondents to a recent McClean study on HR trends report there is a gap in manager capabilities at their organization. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a great boss who helps you learn on the job. For everyone else, here are 4 mindset shifts to consider as you take the lead of your new team.

Your values are on display

As an individual contributor, what you could produce was the most important thing, but as a leader, who you are and why you do what you do is now front and center over any of the other skills that got you where you are today. The choices you make impact your team’s lives in small and life-changing ways, so to make sure those choices don’t end up in regret, make sure you’re clear on the values that drive you.

Consider developing a personal leadership philosophy.

  • Think of all the bosses you’ve had. What did they do that inspired, frustrated, and motivated you? Those moments of big feelings — also known as triggers (bad ones) and glimmers (good ones) — are the keys to our most deeply held beliefs.
  • As a leader, which of those traits would you like to bring forward, and which would you rather do the exact opposite?
  • Distill those traits into values. For example, if you appreciated a boss who always kept your one-on-one meetings, you might make respect for people’s time a leadership value.

You’re no longer being judged by how much you contribute, but by how well you develop your team

You know exactly what got you that management role — you were the best at what you do. What no one tells you is that you don’t really get to do that anymore. Now, instead of being the one to do the mind blowing work, your contribution is developing your team to do it even better. That means no more taking credit. No more imposing your point of view. It’s time to go from player to coach.

  • Take the time to talk to your team members about their goals, aspirations, and things they want to learn and do better.
  • Give constructive feedback centered on the work, not the person.
  • Make sure your conversations happen regularly, not just during performance reviews. In the world of remote working, a regular, casual 30 minute conversation can make all the difference.

Your team members’ styles matter, whether you like them or not

You are not in competition with your team, but no matter how cohesive a team is, they may still have competing interests among themselves. Remember they’re in the position you were just in, striving to prove themselves to get ahead. And that can get in the way of the collaboration culture you’re dreaming of.

Instead of insisting everyone’s styles match, implement a more diverse frame of reference for how work gets done. If you’re a quick thinker and you’ve got a team member who is a deep processor, you (and any other quick thinkers on your team) might find it frustrating. It’s your job to get to know your team members’ styles and strategize how to make them work well together. That might mean seeding an idea with your deep thinker first before the big team brainstorm, for example.

This takes time, so it helps to let your team know you’re learning, and engage them in the process by asking what is and isn’t working for them along the way.

You’re the bridge between your team, the company, and their futures there

I remember my first review season as a corporate leader. It was also the first time I saw all of my team’s salaries. And I was shocked. The team member who had been there the longest, did some of the heaviest lifting, and loved the brand the most was making a dramatically lower salary than the members I’d hired when I took over. Losing them would be a loss for me, the team, and the company. So I worked with them, and the best HR business partner I’ve ever worked with, to get them the bump they deserved. Instead of meetings about messaging and public relations campaigns, part of my time was spent strategizing how to make this kind of unprecedented move. Because that was my job now.

It may feel like your talent, and the skills you worked so hard to hone, are suddenly going to waste when you move into leadership. But your personal experience in developing those skills, and being led, will prove to be even more valuable when you start to see yourself as a guide, just a few steps ahead on the path. Connecting that mindset to your values, so you can lead as your best self, will help your team connect their goals to your own and create a culture where everyone sees the benefit in helping everyone else be great together.

This article was originally published on LizaDube.com. Visit to learn more about emotional intelligence coaching for new leaders and teams.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store