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Guidance for first time managers on becoming an effective leader

Managing a team for the first time? If you were just promoted and you find yourself wondering how to encourage productivity and efficiency in your new employees but have never done it before, you might be at a bit of a loss regarding what you need to do. Stepping into a leadership role for the first time can be confusing and stressful, but it can also be very rewarding. Use these tips and strategies to get results right away!


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  • get to know each team member’s work style, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators
  • come to the table with a roadmap for success
  • know that accountability is everything
  • get on the field and in the trenches
  • be inspired and inspiring

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  • think you can say something once and miracles will happen
  • focus on making friends
  • accept excuses
  • sacrifice long term success for shortcuts or expeditious results
  • keep underperformers that won’t or can’t deliver results


Do get to know each team member’s work style, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators

Drive results by utilizing each individual’s strengths. It is critical that you assemble a team of individuals that are strong in different areas in order to capture all of the talents you will need to produce the end result you want. Learn what motivates each individual and how to manage them in order to yield the best results from each person. By taking the time to uncover the strengths of each individual on the team you can leverage each person’s unique capabilities and drive superior performance. You will get more energy and effort from your team if they are focused on expanding and accelerating what they are doing well versus trying to become something they are not.

Do come to the table with a roadmap for success

Your team needs your direction to get from point A to point B. One of the biggest pitfalls new managers fall victim to is focusing on “managing” people to achieve an end result rather than “coaching and guiding” each person in real time to help them get from where they are to where they need to be. You should be coming to the table with a very specific roadmap and strategy that clearly explains exactly how you plan to help them achieve success.

Do know that accountability is everything

Without follow-through even the best strategic plans go nowhere. As the business owner, leader, or manager your job is to devise the strategy and plan but to put measuring, tracking, and follow-up in place in order to drive it to completion. What you measure grows. Make sure that the most important pillars of your team’s success are well defined, documented, and measured consistently.

Do get on the field and in the trenches

You need to coach from the field and be an active participant in day to day operations. If you remove yourself from the day to day activities that your team is executing you will miss the subtle modifications and changes that need to happen on a daily basis in order to yield great results. Instead of reviewing what happened on a monthly basis, conduct team meetings daily and participate in the successes and challenges throughout the day.

Do be inspired and inspiring

You set the tone, pace, and expectation for your team. Your team is modeling you, taking cues from you and determining their level of comfort and commitment based on your level of buy-in and commitment. If you want a motivated and engaged team, focus first on making sure you are modeling these behaviors.


Do not think you can say something once and miracles will happen

Repetition is critical to ongoing success. Whatever is truly important to your success needs to be a daily conversation. Never assume because you mentioned something once or even a few times that your job is done. Not only do you need to keep the priorities top of mind, but you should also bring new and innovative strategies for your team to implement in order to accelerate their success.

Do not focus on making friends

Your role is to be a mentor and coach. A balance of both positive and constructive feedback is required to create long term success in any situation. Being overly optimistic or micro-managing every detail can lead to disappointment, lack of motivation, and turnover. A good coach gives feedback in crucial areas of improvement, challenging the person to grow while recognizing and celebrating success along the way.

Do not accept excuses

Hold yourself and others to a high standard of excellence in every aspect of the business for long term success. Whenever you challenge yourself or others to raise the bar and get better results, excuses crop up. Be on high alert for mediocrity and excuse making and banish it from your company or department as quickly as possible. Doing well in one area is not an excuse for poor performance or sloppy work in another.

Do not sacrifice long term success for shortcuts or expeditious results

Leaders must have foresight and hindsight. Your team is counting on you to make decisions today that set them up for success six months, even a year from now. One key skill to develop as a leader is how to make good short term decisions, with long term impact. Learn from the past and take time to think through the implications of each decision for the future.

Do not keep underperformers that won’t or can’t deliver results

Retaining top talent and addressing underperformers are equally important. Your team will not respect you and deliver for you if they see that top performance and lack of performance are treated the same. Take action right away to address problems and challenges as they arise.


Use these tips to help you develop your skill set as a leader. Remember to invest in your own growth and development as a leader so that you can continue to make a greater impact and more effectively help others further their success as well.

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