Career Advice

Be the Leader, Don’t Follow Them - Tips for New Managers

Shannon Barlow Posted by Shannon
min read

You may have been positioning yourself to take a leadership role but often the opportunity will come along sooner than you had planned or expected.  Of course you are going to grab the chance to develop but you wouldn’t be alone if once the first wave of excitement passes you think “Oh shit, now I actually have to do this!”  Here are 4 tips for new managers.

  1. We know you don’t know everything and it’s OK.  People don’t expect you to be all over it from day 1 as a manager. There’s a lot to be said for the ‘Fake it till you make it’ strategy, but if you go from being one of the team to a management/leadership position and suddenly you’re the authority on anything and everything, they’re going to see right through you.  Yes, it is your responsibility to build on your knowledge, step up to situations and learn from them, but it’s also OK to admit that you don’t have the answer straight away.  You’re better off taking the time to figure it out and getting it right, rather than trying to bluff your way through.
  2. Respect.  A common mistake is to feel like you have to get your new team to like you, when really it’s more important to earn respect.  You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, in fact it’s best to have some boundaries, but you do need to demonstrate leadership qualities to instil confidence that you have what it takes to drive the team forward. The good news is your new position isn’t an accident, so draw on your strengths and the leadership skills that got you selected for the position in the first place.
  3. Salute the rank, not the man. You may not be in the military, but this Band of Brothers quote can apply to any organisation.  You will value the input of some members of your leadership team more than others, and you won’t always agree with what people have to say, but it’s important to treat your peers with respect.  Being the leader can be a lonely position, so show your support to the other managers because you never know when you’ll need them to have your back.  You should definitely avoid calling people out in front of others; disagreements or debates are best handled privately.
  4. Cherry pick. As you step into your new role you might be tempted to follow in the footsteps of your previous managers. It’s fine to use them as a guide for a vibrant career and adopt their ways, but this is your chance to walk your own path too. Whether it’s how you run team meetings or motivate your staff, pick the best bits from those who have come before you but be sure to create your own style and way of doing things.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing or have faced after stepping up to a leadership position?