I am relatively new leader without a lot of management experience. How do I get the best out of my new team? What are some of the practices I should be doing? Louise, Manager, Telecommunications
Congratulations on your first management role. This is a huge step in your career, and I hope you have savoured the moment. It is great that you are already thinking about how to get the most from your new team. The primary role of a leader is to do just that – to help the team succeed and the individuals thrive. However many leaders — new as well as those with experience — lose sight of that key fact as they get caught up in the demands of getting the job done.
There are a number of fundamentals I recommend you focus on as you get your feet under the desk in your new role.
First, get to know your team and build relationships. Someone said to me when I got my first management role that I was now the topic of conversation at the dinner table. Think about that. You are now directly influencing people’s lives, their productivity, their careers, and yes indirectly their happiness. The more you can get to know your people and build real report with them, the greater impact you can have.
Second, ensure you lead with a strengths based approach. The strengths movement has been around for decades, and the core focus is looking at what is right with people, what drives and energises them, and then working to help them use their strengths at work everyday. Only 2 out of 10 people actually get to do that, and it is one of the main reasons for employee disengagement at work. Get your team to do a strengths assessment like the Values In Action survey or the Gallup StrengthsFinder.
This will give your direct reports an accurate reading on their strengths, and you can then work together to figure out how they use them everyday at work. Make sure you understand your own strengths as well. Research has shown that there isn’t one single quality that defines a good leader, however leaders knowing their own strengths, and understanding how to best use them, is a common quality amongst successful leaders.
Then there are a few seemingly small things I would also suggest that can be key to your success.
Respect everyone and the role they have to play. Learn what drives and motivates each individual in your team (it may not be what you think), and ensure that people understand your vision, what you are trying to achieve and the role they play in that. When people feel connected to driving an outcome, they will work all the harder to ensure success. Clearly articulate where you are going and why, and you will have a greater chance in having them go along on the journey with you.
Finally, don’t ask your people to do anything that you wouldn’t do. I remember listening to Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, speak in New York at IBM Headquarters last year. I was running a global leadership development program for new executives, and he had come in to share some of his vast leadership experience with the group. He was very strong on this point. If you don’t want to do it, don’t expect anyone in your team to do it. And even better, if it is a task that is particularly hard, then work along side your team to help them get it done.
I hope this helps. All the best on your new leadership journey.
Suggested reading: Strengths based leadership — Tom Rath
Got a burning question about your career, leadership, balance or how to create the success you are after? Send your questions, along with your first name, role and industry, to firstname.lastname@example.org and each week Megan will choose one to address in detail.