New leaders go through a wide range of emotions. There’s excitement about the new opportunities, anxiety about making a mark, and confidence in the skills that brought them to where they are. With all this excitement, they also often lack knowledge and experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. The way to overcome those feelings is to seek advice. Along those lines, I was recently asked, “What is your advice for new leaders?”
Advice for New Leaders
To answer this question, I go back to when I was a new leader. As a new leader, I had many of those feelings going through my head. I felt excited, overwhelmed, nervous, and a wide range of other emotions. Those feelings were and are normal and expected.
As a new leader, I was in a position where I had a lot of control over things that I didn’t have control over in the past. Once I got over the initial range of emotions, I realized I had to get to work. So let’s answer the question… What is my advice for new leaders? I have three pieces of advice.
1. Change slowly at first
As a new leader, it is easy to get change fever. As a new leader, I wanted to change the whole world by making sweeping changes ranging from how things were run to what people did, but I learned quickly that that is not the best approach. My advice for new leaders is that it is okay to make changes, but do it slowly at first. Before you make sweeping changes, try to understand the existing processes.
Learn the roles do people currently have? Who is responsible for what? Which processes are effective and which ones have been problems for years that people were too afraid to bring up? Once you understand how things are currently run, identify how to best change things going forward. Make changes that help the processes to move more smoothly. If you make sweeping changes without understanding the background and reasoning behind the existing processes, you may change something that doesn’t need to be changed.
2. Gain Trust
Do everything you can to gain the trust of those you work with. When you start in a new position, people automatically have questions about you and the kind of leader you will be. They want to know why you got the position and not them or their friend that was going for it.
As they question you, it is important to gain their trust. Show them you care about them and their success. Be sincerely interested in each member of your team. Get to know them. Find out why they do what they do with sincere interest. Be quick to listen and slow to tell people what to do. Also, get their opinions on how things could be run better. They have valuable insight on what does and doesn’t work because they have been there longer than you.
3. Work hard
My final piece of advice for new leaders is to work hard. There is no substitute for hard work. Get to work right away to gain the respect of those you work with. The harder you work the greater impression you will make. As you work hard, those you lead will see that you care about what you do. This will also help you gain a better understanding of your responsibilities in your new role. Hard work will also help you to gain the trust of those you lead.
When you are a new leader it can be very easy to get overwhelmed because you want to change the world and make your mark. You’ll also have a lot on your plate. If you work hard, gain trust, and make change slowly at first you will have much more success. You will be able to connect with those you lead and gain valuable experience and insight.
So what advice would YOU give to new leaders? What do you wish you knew as a new leader that it took you a long time to learn? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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