If you’re upwardly mobile in your career and you work for an organization, or if you’re an entrepreneur who plans to someday grow your business beyond what you can handle on your own, the day is going to come when you’re somebody’s boss.
If you’re never held a leadership or supervisory position, the thought can be daunting. And being a first-time boss is never easy. For many, the biggest issue is finding the right balance between balancing your new responsibilities and managing the team. Here’s some good advice from people who remember their first days and weeks as the boss:
1. Be prepared. Preparation is critical, especially if you’re starting out at a new organization. Learn everything you can about the company–especially its values, mission, and purpose. Make appointments with key people to learn resources and background information, and be diligent in studying any training materials. The more you know going in, the better boss you can be.
2. Pivot your thinking: Many new managers make the mistake of thinking what got them there is going to keep them there. Your skills are important, but that’s not what will make you successful. Up to now, it’s been about your capabilities and competencies; now it’s about the people, and how to motivate them and inspire them to do excellent work. Remember, at the end of the day your performance will be tied to the that of your team.
3. Know yourself and be yourself. Let people know who you are and what you value. An important early task is to identify your leadership message–what means the most to you and what your prioritizes are. When others can understand and trust you, respect is probably not far behind.
4. Listen and learn. Your first impulse may be to come in, change things up, and fix everything in sight. Don’t do it. It’s time to listen. Hold individual and group meetings, and pay particular attention to what people tell you is and isn’t working. This gains you a huge amount of knowledge, and it lets your team know that you’re interested in their perspective. Try to make as few decisions as possible in the first 90 days.
5. Cultivate your people skills. In a new leadership role, it’s easy to start thinking exclusively about productivity, process and procedures. But remember to work on connecting with the people around you. Get to know them and begin building those important relationships.
6. Empower the people. Being a great boss means knowing that that the people on your team matter most. It’s important to connect and communicate, to show empathy and understanding, and to provide the resources they need to do their best and keep growing professionally.
7. Build a community of shared experiences. To be successful you have to cultivate shared experiences for all–the kind of experiences that make a work group feel like a community. Working hard toward shared goals, being part of a compelling vision, and knowing that their voice is heard and their ideas are taken seriously. Make sure everyone on your team feels welcome to share their knowledge, experience, and vision..
8. Give credit where it’s due. It’s tempting to want to add as much as possible to your personal “win” column, but the more you credit the group’s efforts and results above your own, the happier and more motivated your team will be, and the better you will all be able to work together next time.
9. Be clear with your communication. If you cannot communicate you will not be successful. What you say is important; how you say it is even more important. Those who are listening need to understand your message, so the more precise and concise you are the more all of you can be successful.
10. Make a roadmap. The best bosses and the greatest leaders know where they’re going, and where they’re taking people. They have a vision of the future and a strategy to guide them toward it. if you don’t know where you’re going you will have a very hard time getting there.
11. Don’t obsess over your mistakes. This principle is part of the mindset that will either help you or hold you back. Remember that nobody is perfect–and even if perfection were attainable, it’s the journey, not the destination, where you learn to make things work.
12. Make yourself accessible. The worst thing you can do is shut yourself behind a closed door and not be visible. As a new boss, you want to be visible and available and accessible. No matter how busy you are, you must leave your door open except for private calls and conversations.
13. Be decisive. People like to know they are being led by someone competent. When the time comes to make a decision, don’t waffle and second-guess yourself. Any decision, even if it turns out to be wrong, is better than no decision at all. Learn from the bad decisions and enjoy the good ones.
14. Maintain your balance. It’s good to throw yourself into your new responsibilities, but you don’t want find yourself burned out in a few weeks. Hold on to your life outside work and find ways to take a break from the stress. Balance work and fun with some time to reflect, unplug and reassess. It will make you happier–and more effective and productive.
15. Ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to do it alone. Top leaders in every industry have coaches and mentors who help them figure things out and help along the way. It’s not about how capable you are, it’s about working on your strengths and keeping on point so you can be successful.
16. Manage up. Even though you are the boss, remember that you still have a boss. And it’s more important than ever to build or maintain a strong relationship. Check in, ask questions when it’s appropriate, and share helpful information along with your team’s wins.
Being a first-time boss is never going to be easy–but it’s 100 percent worth it. Keep your priorities clear and act on what’s important and you’ll be off to a great start.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
THE LEADERSHIP GAP
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.