Whether you’ve recently been promoted, or are looking for a new job in a management position, you’ll likely need a few pointers on being a first-time leader.
Regardless of how much you’ve educated yourself, there will be inevitable challenges. From setting goals to preparing budgets to giving performance reviews, you can prepare as much as possible and still face tough challenges on the softer side of leadership: the skills you can only learn from experience.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you take on or search for a leadership role for the very first time.
- There’s a big difference between managing and leading.
Being a manager requires organization, delegation and coordinating workloads, while being a leader requires creating a vision and inspiring team members. Where managers often tend to details and execution, leaders tend to the vision and mission. Not to say these roles can’t overlap – they often do. But it’s important to be very clear on the tasks and responsibilities required for the position at hand.
- It’s not about you, it’s about the larger cause.
When you take on a leadership role, all of a sudden you’ll have employees looking up to you for inspiration, guidance and motivation. The best way to help your reports perform well and foster commitment to your company’s mission is by walking the talk. You need to genuinely embody a dedication to that mission yourself and personally model the behavior you’d like to see reflected in your team members. Keep in mind that your attitude will trickle down to your team’s, so even if you’re struggling with something or having a tough day, be sure to maintain a positive outlook, while of course being transparent and open with your reports.
- Treat everyone with respect.
This is a simple policy, and you’re likely being put in a leadership position because you have displayed your ability to treat others well. But when assuming a leadership role, some people fall into the habit of putting their own opinions first, without acknowledging the those of their employees. Be sure to keep an open mind and listen to everyone. Treat every single team member, no matter what status or position they hold with respect and dignity. This approach not only strengthens a team, but can go a long way in earning trust and commitment. Your success as a leader will be quickly undermined if you fail to do so.
Being a first-time leader is not an easy accomplishment. And while you can prepare and learn new skills before taking on the job, sometimes experience is the only way to become a great leader. That said, be sure to show your potential employer your willingness to learn along the way and apply yourself for the betterment of the team and the company’s mission. Pointing to other instances of leadership, whether in your career or outside the office can be a good way to do this.
Most of all, you’ll want to let your personality and ability to work well with others shine through, since this is often what makes a standout leader. When you’re ready to start searching for your first-time leadership role, get started with Rake! Download the app here.