At some point in time, almost everyone will find themselves in a leadership role of some kind. For some, it’s the ultimate goal within their professional career. Leadership can come in various forms; it might be taking on a role as a project manager on a small project or even as a full-time manager with several subordinates or direct reports. Regardless of how large or small your role may be, there is a good chance it can be a little nerve-wracking, exhilarating and challenging all at the same time. Here are three tips to help you manage your first leadership role.
It’s Okay to Admit What You Don’t Know
As a new leader, it can be tempting to believe that everyone is expecting you to have all the answers. They aren’t. In fact, there is a good chance your team may know many things you do not and excel in areas you do not. Managing a team does not mean you have to be an expert at everything and if you try to pretend you are, you will most likely only alienate your team. Do assign roles and tasks, but don’t be afraid to also ask questions and get input from your team. Remember, even as a leader you can always learn something new from someone on your team.
As a new leader, you are going to make mistakes. That is a given. When you do, however, don’t try to shift the blame onto your team. If a team member makes a mistake, do work with them to correct the mistake but don’t come down on them like a sack of bricks. On the one hand, their performance does reflect on you but at the same time, you are not likely to get better performance from them by publicly shaming or humiliating them. If you make a mistake, take ownership of it; and if someone on your team makes a mistake, help them learn how to correct it.
Get to Know Your Team
While it is not generally a good idea for managers to be friends with subordinates, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build strong rapport with them. You are not only their manager but you are also their only advocate with higher-ups. You will also have a much easier time scheduling or assigning tasks if you get to know some of the strengths, weaknesses and even personal challenges of each of your team members. The more your subordinates feel like you genuinely want to help them succeed, the more likely they are to go above and beyond for you.