What do you need to know when taking on your first management role?


Landing a new leadership role is a major adjustment – especially if it is your first step into management. You have new responsibilities, people reporting to you directly and more parties directly affected by your decisions.

Fear not, we have compiled a list of some of the best tips for professionals taking on their first management role. Let’s take a look.

What do you need to know to change your ways and break into your new leadership role?What do you need to know to change your ways and break into your new leadership role?

Find your leadership style and stick with it

There are a lot of big ideas out there about what leadership is and what it isn’t, but in reality leadership is unique to everyone. New leaders need to shy away from imitating the leadership they have seen before and work to create their own approaches.

“People often think they need to change or mould themselves into an idealised version of leadership,” explained Clinical Professor of Management at the Kellogg School Brenda Booth. “This creates a kind of impostor syndrome. They think that if they are truly themselves, people won’t accept it.”

In order to inspire the kind of loyalty needed for good leadership, you need to come off as authentic in what you do. You don’t want to just mimic the management styles you’ve seen before.

In order to inspire the kind of loyalty needed for good leadership you need to come off as authentic.

Sure, there is plenty to be learned from leaders who have been through similar experiences but you need to find your own style amongst these lessons and once you do, run with it. You were chosen for this role for a reason, embrace your strengths and play to them.

Communicate effectively and often

Think of any major change you have witnessed during your professional career. Do you wish there had been more communication about what was about to happen or less? Most people crave more information in times of major transition. As a new leader, you should do your best to provide your new team with the knowledge they need.

Harvard Business Review Contributor Jeanne DeWitt asserts that in times of organisational change there is no such thing as over-communicating. Everyone will be curious about your plans and general direction, so being as open and transparent as possible can help you build trust among your team from the start.

DeWitt recommended creating a tentative outline for your first 30 days in your new role. This doesn’t mean you need to have a detailed leadership strategy rather a general day-to-day itinerary. Will you be holding one-on-ones with every employee? Which departments are you planning to visit and when? When will you be available for questions?

Don’t rush the process

It’s tempting to want to jump into your new leadership role with guns blazing. But rushing the leadership process can be a grave mistake. You need to take the time to understand your new role and what you need to do to excel at it. Sure, you may have some great ideas – that may even be why you were given the position – but there’s more to executing strategies than big picture ideas.

Rushing the leadership process can be a grave mistake.

Use your first few weeks to really gain a complete understanding of how the company works from a management perspective. How do new ideas come to fruition? What processes need to be worked through? What budget is your team working within?

Beyond actual application, implementing major changes in your first few weeks of leadership can sometimes be seen as a little aggressive. It may be more valuable for you to take the time to listen to your new team, get a feel for what they think needs changing and take these things into consideration when crafting your first set of action items. This not only gives you a richer view of what needs fixing but helps build stronger team ties from the onset.

Be steadfast with decisions

With that being said, it is important to be decisive with your choices when you do decide on a plan of action. As the leader, your team is looking to you to make the big-picture decisions – delaying this process for too long or presenting a shaky roll-outs aren’t great ways to inspire confidence among your employees, explained DeWitt.

When you present your ideas make sure you have clear and concise communication. More importantly, be bold and proactive about their execution. You first few moves as a leader will set the tone for how your plans and processes are rolled out in the future.

The first few moves you make as a leader will pave the path for your leadership style. The first few moves you make as a leader will pave the path for your leadership style.

Practise trust

Don’t let your fears about your new role affect your ability to trust your team members. Remember: micro management is not management. You weren’t put in a leadership role to man the oars, you are meant to direct the ship.

Give your team the tools they need to succeed and trust them to get the job done. No one likes a leader that is standing over their shoulders all the time. By letting go of the reins you will also be able to better identify what team members are critical parts of your team and which ones are not.

One of the best ways to prep for this next step in your career is to sign up for a comprehensive leadership course. Here at ICML, we have a whole team of trainers ready and excited to teach you the skills needed to excel in your new role. Want to learn more? Reach out to one of our reps today.

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