Leadership is a continuous learning process, but there’s no denying that your first foray can be the hardest. You don’t have any of your own successes to boost your confidence, or your own mistakes to learn from. There’s plenty of people out there with recommendations and cautionary tales, but sorting through it all can be overwhelming.
We asked leaders what advice they wish they’d gotten for their first time out of the gate. Here are the leadership qualities you should start with for success in your new role.
Be patient: Lisa McGregor, President of Whistler Naturals Skin Care, shares a piece of advice that she actually did receive in her first leadership position: “Wait for at least 30 days before making any changes.”
It’s tempting as a new leader to try to make your mark immediately so you can prove yourself, but a little patience will serve you well. “This [...] gives you a good opportunity to see and understand how things run, and the reason certain things are done a specific way,” says McGregor. “[A]nd most importantly, time to gain trust from the employees.”
Don’t Try To Do It All: Jonathan Poston, founder of Yiveo Inc. recommends that new leaders “learn how to delegate duties to free your time to set the vision for the company.” When only 42% of employees know their organization’s vision, mission, and values, it’s up to you to steer the ship. It may be disorienting not to be working alongside your team anymore, but trust your employees to take care of their responsibilities. Doubting them will hamper both of you.
“It's hard to step back and let staff do their thing if you've never done it before,” adds Poston, “but essential for any leader who wants to grow a business.”
Be supportive: You’re in a top position now, but you should remember that part of your job is elevating those under you. “Build your people up,” says speaker and author Barry Maher. “Show them the vision you have for what they can become and what they can accomplish [...] If they think you have a high opinion of them, it's amazing what they will do to maintain that opinion.”
Two-thirds of employees don’t see opportunities for professional growth in their job—don’t let your people be faced with a dead end. Mentor and encourage them in their professional development.
Don’t Try To Be A Robot: “The biggest advice I would give to people moving into leadership/management positions would be to learn the art of remaining emotional,” says Ryan Naudé, Manager of Data Solutions Entelect. “[Y]ou are not a rock and you are allowed to have emotions.”
While you do need to “somehow [detach] emotion from business decisions,” Naudé adds, don’t assume that being a strong leader means you can’t be human. In reality, improving empathy and people skills is one of the top five things employees want to change about their managers.
When you’re a new supervisor or manager just starting to learn your way, you may think you need to do everything and be the best. But being overambitious can hurt more than help. Don’t try to be Superman—just focus on these few vital leadership qualities to get you headed in the right direction.
- Are Leadership Qualities Learned Or Innate?
- The Leadership Qualities Employees Want — And How To Achieve Them