4 Smart, Brave Things First-Time Leaders Do

You have a new title and your first official leadership role. Congratulations! How can you succeed as a first-time leader and build solid leadership skills?

In the rush to get more done, it can be easy to overlook what counts in the long run. A first-time leader might be tempted to prove that he can get more done than ever before. Not so fast.

First-time leaders often focus more on doing the work than learning to delegate. This can be especially difficult if your strengths lie in precise work, analytical thinking, and accurate reporting. While each of those strengths is important, the focus in a leadership role must shift to encompassing broader concepts.

Part of that broader focus is the need to shift upward in your observations to grasp company strategy. Another aspect of your new focus is learning to trust your team to do great work. Here are some of the smart ways that new leaders build a set of leadership skills that foster team engagement and boost productivity.


Leadership Skills: How to Get More Done Through Others

In your new role as a leader, you have new pressures, higher expectations, and the opportunity to have a greater impact. How can you meet these pressures and make your boss glad that she gave you the promotion? How can you take charge of building a set of leadership skills that help you and your team succeed?

In the long run, what counts is the ability to get buy-in from your team and inspire collaboration aligned with company goals. Instead of trying to do more work, the smart and brave thing to do is this:

1. Build authentic relationships with your team members.

Learn how their strengths and goals align with company growth. Can you help them develop a career path that will be engaging for them and beneficial to the team? Do you have the right people on the team? If you inherited the team, you may have difficult decisions ahead. It may be time to decide who to retain and develop, and who isn’t a fit.


2. Establish shared values.

Sustainable growth and productivity must be driven by more than compliance. You won’t be able to establish shared values until you know your team members. For instance, say you discover a common thread of customer focus on your team. You have learned that everyone is just-this-side-of obsessed about creating an amazing customer experience. Build on that. Use that to engage your team and inspire excellence.


3. Communicate your vision.

What is possible for your team? Involve them in uncovering the best ways to achieve this vision. If you discover that one of your shared values is creating an amazing customer experience, share your ideas about what is possible. Get input from your team about the things that matter most to the customer. Where do you have room to improve? How does that match the strengths of your team and company? Be truly open to the ideas of others. Be willing to be vulnerable about sharing your values and ideas.


4. Think and act strategically.

Learn more about your company’s strategy. Take the time to communicate the key elements of the strategy to your team. Help your team set the right goals to support the chief objectives that align with company goals. Be a relentless conduit of information that helps your team. Be as transparent as you reasonably can. Build trust.

Sharing thoughts and feelings about your values and dreams as a leader can feel vulnerable. It might seem like you are wasting time on building relationships when you could be “working.”


Focus on Your Leadership Development

It might seem as though you are focusing on “soft skills.” You are! Your focus has to be smarter than only measuring tasks and to-do lists. Keep in mind that employee engagement is a powerful driver for producing desired outcomes.

Expand your point of view to encompass both the daily tasks that have to be managed and the vision of what you and your team can accomplish. Your role as a leader requires this mind shift in the early days to ensure long-term success.

Want to learn more about your effectiveness as a leader? Take our free Leadership Effectiveness Survey

Let me know what you discover!