Attention First Time Leaders!

There will likely never be another moment in your career to match the day you take on your first leadership challenge. That moment sinks in when YOU have been put into the management role. For the first time you are responsible for other people. You have the authority.

Courtesy 123rf.com sirylokWhat do you do now? What do you do for your first official piece of business? Trust me, there will be hundreds of other questions swirling in your mind.

Combine this sudden assumption of duty and command with perhaps a new setting. Better still, maybe you have a whole new team to manage.

The challenges can be daunting.

Fortunately for you, there is plenty of help. I am going to offer some quick ideas for you to follow the first few days.

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1. There is generally no need to move quickly, unless of course you are in a crisis assignment or war zone. Then yes, you have to move with a purpose and make some quick decisions. However, in business, the situation is never quite so severe.

The point here is that you usually will never be forced to make big decisions the first few days. Give yourself that grace period to make some solid observations about the team, the work, and the surrounding circumstances.

2. Seek information –  Begin building a stockpile of information about your unit and team. Get clarity on your objectives and assignments. As the leader, you must chart the exact vision for your team. Of course it will likely involve the corporate context, but your unit exists for a reason. Be sure YOU are clear on that reason.

Next begin figuring out how to establish this vision for your team so that you can begin communicating it clearly. There’s never anything wrong about figuring out how to rally the troops around the common cause you are there to serve.

3. Begin setting boundaries –  If you have been promoted up from within the ranks, this can be hard. As soon as you become the boss, your old friends at work need to understand the need for new boundaries. This never has be done in a cruel and mean spirited way. However, it does need to be done firmly and defectively.

There is no harm in taking some time to make small, slow adjustments with the people who used to be your peers, but now may be the subject of your responsibility.

4. Watch how you interact –  Everyone WILL be watching how well you navigate the new assignment. It’s human nature. The best advice is to plan ahead as much as possible for individual or team meetings. Try to anticipate what may be asked of you. Work through what you choose to say.

There is never a problem as a leader to say “That’s something I had not thought about, let me get back to you.”

5. Ask questions –  Feel free to ask questions, perhaps lots of them. Be sure you are working with a good understanding of facts, circumstances, and people.

Question: What else do you need to know about your first leadership role? If you need to know something else about your first assignment, feel free to comment below.