Being a new leader is a challenge. If you’re not careful, your plate will be overflowing within weeks into your new job. Of course, things outside your reach influence that, but there’re also a lot you can control. And when you do, you’re job will be a lot more fun and much easier.
In this blog, I’ll share my 101 for new leaders: five easy steps to being more then just any manager.
First things first: do nothing.
I’ve seen this happen a lot (and I’ve done it myself): a new manager arrives and within weeks, things start to change. Everyone’s happy: finally! Some of the issues that have been dragging down the department are finally dealt with. Then, two months in, some of the old patterns return. And slowly, most things return to the way they where before the new girl/guy jumped in.
When you’re starting at your new job you’ll definitely see things that need changing.
Resist the urge to start making those changes immediately, though!
From your ‘fresh eyes perspective’, you’re not seeing any of the reasons behind the obvious problems. And if you start implementing changes right away, these deeper reasons will be buried deeper and out of you’re sight. Because you’re basically working on the surface only, the changes won’t stick. And before you know it, things will go back to how they where. With one big difference: you will be part of the system too, which makes it nearly impossible for you to see what’s actually going on.
You can read more on the importance of doing nothing in this article.
Instead of jumping into action: take time to ask questions and listen to the answer. Resist the urge to show everyone how smart you are.
You are the new boss. The moment you start telling what you think, most other people will stop telling you what they think. And even though you are of course extremely smart, you’re new to the organization. And they aren’t. They will share valuable info when you take the time to build a connection, ask questions and listen to the answers without judgment.
You do not know everything. You are not always right. And you do make mistakes. Be courageous enough to admit that, and smart enough to ask others for help.
I cannot stress enough how much you will benefit from doing this.
Just to name a few positive aspects:
- You’ll be human in the eyes of the people you work with.
- You’ll get help.
- You’ll give your team members room to show what they’re good at.
- And also room to make mistakes and come to you for help.
These are all crucial to being effective as a manager. Just do it!
It’s not all up to you
Most people come into their new job and start running really, really fast. They drown themselves in dossiers and do nothing all day but reading, writing, talking…, working overtime to get everything off their desks.
Doing this may seem like a smart idea at first, because if you don’t know everything, how will you know if something’s wrong?
Fortunately, it’s not even that hard to know everything without finding it out for yourself. There’s this entire group of people who’ve been at the organization way before you. So: get to know your team, connect with them and learn to trust them. Delegate as much of the work as possible and spend the time you gain by having a one-on-one with all your team members every week.
In these one-on-one’s you ask them smart questions, like: ‘what’s the thing that can go horribly wrong here?’ and ‘What are the biggest struggles you have with this dossier’. It’s your (real) job to coach them through these issues and be sensitive to where other problems may arise. By building mutual trust, your team will come to you in time when they forsee problems, giving you the possibility to work your magic.
For more on how to delegate, check out this article.
Don’t forget to breathe
In between all this listening, questioning and doing magic: take time to breathe. I mean this quite literally, because deep breathing is actually one of the best and easiest ways to reconnect to yourself. Breathe into your belly for two or three minutes and you’ll quiet down the chatter in your head and start to feel human again. When you do this at challenging times, right before a difficult meeting for example, you’ll be better equipped to connect to what you really believe is right. When you speak from a place of being connected to yourself, your message will be that much more powerful.
Try making a habit of taking a few minutes, a couple of times a day, to reconnect to your power through breathing deeply. You’ll be amazed!
Management is hard, and it isn’t.
Following these five steps will keep you grounded and in control, which is vital to doing your job right. Leadership is basically all about connection: connection to yourself and to your team members.
I believe this is the new leadership paradigm: lead through connection.
I would love to hear from you: what’s your experience in starting out as a manager? I curious to hear both from new and experienced leaders. Share your story below in the comments.
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