Foundations for new leaders — tips to get started in your new leadership role

Foundations for New Leaders

Being promoted into a new leadership role is an exciting time. It means that you have been recognised for the skills that you have. These could be your professional and technical skills. You may also have been recognised as somebody who has the potential to step up and lead.

Leadership isn’t ordinarily a skill that is taught during your standard law, accounting or business degree. In those formal qualifications, you learn much about the application of the relevant principles but not much about what it means to step up and lead.

Whilst you might be a fantastic technical lawyer or accountant or other professional, you may not necessarily be a great leader. While you are learning how to be a great leader, there are some key steps you can take to ensure that you succeed in your new leadership role.

Hughes, Ginnett and Curphy, in their book, Leadership— Enhancing the Lessons of Experience*set out a framework for your first 90 days as a leader. We have adopted some of those steps here and added some of our own.

Before you start— do your homework.

You should learn as much as you possibly can about the organisation and in particular the team you are going to lead. In so far as it is possible and you should do, you should try to understand who is on your team and what the roles are that each of them play. You should try to find out the overall objectives of that particular team including, if there are any big clients that the team is responsible for, who those clients are and what their goals are.

First day— you only get one chance to make your first impression.

On the first day, you should set out to meet your boss and if it’s at all possible, meet your entire team. Get to know these people and learn their names and each of their roles.

You should have a meeting with the critical members of your team to work through what their key objectives are and who the key clients are that the team will be working with. You should consider how the team is to communicate, how meetings are scheduled and practically on a day to day basis how things are organised.

Within the first two to three weeks, lay the foundation for how you operate.

As part of your induction process, you will have met the team and understood the team’s objectives. It is important to communicate clearly within those first few weeks to understand how the team operates, but also to let the team know how you operate and how you will fit in to their day to day work life. Ensuring that your team know how you operate will provide a foundation for future communication and ensure that when issues arise in the future, there are mechanisms to deal with those.

You should also get some feedback from the team in terms of what they’re working on and what their individual objectives are. You should try to understand if there are any people issues within the team and what the team think they can do better. You should also seek advice from team members for the new leader and find out what the new leader can do to help the team members.

Check in regularly and review progress.

It is important to check in regularly with your team, particularly in those first few months to consider how you are going as a leader and how the team are responding to you as a leader. You should check in with the objectives of the team from a practical level and make sure these are being met. In terms of your leadership development, you should seek regular feedback about decisions you are making or have made and the impact of those decisions. You should take the time to reflect on decisions that you’ve made and the impact that those decisions may have had on the team.

Following these simple steps in your new leadership role, will assist you to grow as a leader and remain on the front foot in your leadership career.

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