Every Tuesday at the Management Excellence blog I share ideas to help those starting out on their leadership journeys.
Establishing yourself as a credible and positive leader is important and challenging. Here are some all-too-common missteps of first-time (and even some hapless, experienced) managers. Avoid them in good health!
7 Lead-Off Mistakes to Avoid as a First-Time Manager:
1-Leading-off with, “Things are going to change around here.” Too many managers enter into a new role assuming everything is broken and that they’ve been elevated to right the wrongs and inanities of the prior regime. Unless your boss has suggested that your function isn’t functioning at all, you need to show some respect for the work of the group, the team members and yes, the prior manager. You won’t win any hearts or minds by suggesting that everyone else was incapable of functioning without you around.
2-Leading-off with some variation of, “I’m the New Sheriff in Town.” I’ve lost track of the number of times a new manager has compensated for his insecurities by overplaying the “I’m in charge” card. The credibility conferred by your title lasts until you open your mouth for the first time. Don’t set a new land-speed record for blowing it.
3-Leading-off with, “Nothing’s going to change.” Yes, something will. Don’t try and assuage concerns about you as the new boss by telling a lie to kick things off. You might even believe that things won’t change, but it’s your job to help things improve over time and that means change.
4-Leading-off with an immediate restructuring. Senior managers inheriting crises make quick calls after assessing talent and workplace dynamics. You shouldn’t do anything in this area quickly. In your role as a new (and first-time) manager, plan on investing a quarter or two to assess talent and dynamics before remaking the group. And don’t forget to ask for your team’s help.
5-Leading-off by listening to just the noisy ones. Chances are, some of the the best ideas and insights are found in the brains and hearts of the quiet people on your team. Don’t equate noise level with gray matter…or even good intentions.
6-Leading-off like a solo consultant. I owe this one to an accomplished consulting colleague who admitted to investing the first 60-days in his first-ever role as a manager (with a VP title) by studying (investigating) everything and failing to engage his team. In his own words, “I squandered a start-up opportunity with my team by boiling the ocean on the business. I operated like a solo-consultant and not a manager responsible for others.” Balance in this case, would have been appropriate.
7-Leading-off by trying to be everyone’s friend. This one is particularly common to those first-time managers promoted from within a group. Sorry, but the relationship has to change. You’re no longer one of the gang.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Treat everyone with respect. Ask questions. Listen more than you talk. Find opportunities to help. Establish a culture of accountability. Share your values. Learn the business. Learn the people. Learn. And then begin to act.
- Invite Leadership Caffeine to Your Next Meeting! Invite Art to speak.
- Subscribe to the Leadership Caffeine Newsletter with subscriber only content. Register here
- For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.
- New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.
- An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.