When we begin anything new, it can be scary. Question after question may swarm in our minds until we find ourselves doubting if we can actually do it. This is definitely the case when we become a manager for the first time. By intentionally leading with purpose, you can be a successful leader and gain the respect of your team and others in the organization.
Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” So I ask you, what is your purpose? Why do you want to be a leader? What do you hope to accomplish as a leader? When you discover your why, you can then begin to craft your leadership vision.
Whenever we begin a new journey, it’s good to think strategically about what success looks like. This will enable you to then carve out your vision of success. Becoming a strategic thinker will help you tremendously as a first-time manager. Focusing on the big picture rather than the small details will assist you in building a team that will support you and also produce great results for the company. Set aside time at the start of each day to consider what you want to accomplish for the day and how those tasks will contribute to your overall goals for the week.
Now that you are a manager, your mindset will require a shift. Adopting a growth mindset is essential to becoming a great leader. As an individual contributor, you no doubt were used to contributing to the team and completing assigned tasks and projects. As a manager, you now set priorities and expectations. Building on the skills and strengths of your team will allow the team to grow and handle challenges successfully. Setting clear expectations upfront will let your team know what is expected and keep you from becoming a micro-manager. When everyone is clear on the goal, they can be innovative and encourage new ideas and growth among the team.
Whenever possible….delegate, delegate, delegate! As a first-time manager, you may want to do everything yourself. You want to make sure everything is done right, and what better way to do that than to do it yourself, right? Wrong! Relinquishing control and allowing your direct reports to take on new tasks not only shows that you trust them but it also gives them the opportunity to grow and learn.
As a first-time manager, feedback is your best friend. Ask for feedback often and be open to accepting it. When meeting with your manager, ask them for positive and critical feedback. This is one of the fastest ways to discover areas that you excel in and also identify areas for improvement. When meeting with direct reports, ask them for feedback and really listen to what they share. Is there anything you can do to assist them? What challenges are they currently facing? Also, don’t be afraid to give feedback. This will assist them in their personal development and show that you are invested in their personal career growth.
Seek out a mentor to help you navigate this new journey. A mentor can provide great insights and advice and share with you what they have learned and what has worked well for them. Look for leaders in your organization that you admire and want to learn from. Reach out to them and ask them if they would like to be your mentor and meet for coffee chats monthly. Not only will you build a great relationship, but you will gain more knowledge about the company and learn more about how to lead with purpose.
Being an empathetic listener is a quality of many great leaders. Having an open-door policy and really listening to your direct reports will build strong relationships. When employees feel heard, they trust and respect you. A leader that is not respected by their team will not go far, but when they know that even though you may not always agree, you will listen to suggestions and recommendations. Being transparent with the team and communicating changes will also assist in building trust.
Take time to get to know each of your direct reports. Discovering what motivates them will help you assist them in developing and reaching their goals. When managers are invested in their employee’s growth and career path, the employee will be invested in supporting the manager and going the extra mile for them. Ask them how they like to be recognized, this is important because one employee may prefer private recognition versus public recognition. Recognizing them in the way that matters to them will endear them to you and build strong team rapport.
These are just a few tips to guide you as you take on your first leadership role. Partnering with a certified leadership coach can help you build self-awareness, develop your leadership capabilities and maximize team performance. Your coach will help keep you motivated and accountable as you consider new perspectives embodying the leadership attributes you value.
You may doubt yourself at times, but be confident, believe in yourself and remember the hard work that got you there!