New leaders: How to be confident and productive right from the start

The biggest step on the leadership journey is that first step from team member to team leader. The first leadership gig is often the hardest—new game, no rulebook. In many cases, the newly assigned leader doesn’t even know the rules have changed!

My wish for ALL new leaders is to be productive and confident right from the start, so here’s 5 Rules of the New Game to keep in mind as you transition into your first leadership role. 

Rule Number 1 – Technical knowledge is no longer king

You have probably been promoted because you were technically good at your last role. At the leadership level, technical knowledge alone is no longer the key determinant of your success—people skills are now essential. 

Rule Number 2 – Moving from the detail to the big picture

The team leader role is one of translation. An effective team leader can communicate downwards with the detail and upwards in a more conceptual, big-picture way. You must learn to be comfortable with less detailed understanding and begin developing a more abstract, conceptual and strategic way of thinking. Delegation is a complementary skill you will need.

Rule Number 3 – Leaders don’t have all the answers

A common misconception for new leaders is that now they are ‘the boss’ they must have all the answers. The implications of this belief are significant and potentially damaging! You are not expected to have all the answers. In fact, it’s more likely that the more senior you become in an organisation, the less answers you will hold directly yourself (there’s a scary thought). The leader’s role is to facilitate the development of answers, asking questions and consulting as widely as is needed in that instance.  

Rule Number 4 – Leader with the most flexibility wins

Awareness comes before flexibility. An effective leader knows their ‘natural state’ on any scale of leadership characteristics (eg collaborative to autocratic, introverted to extroverted, etc) and can consciously choose the best starting point in any situation. Understand your current style and develop your leadership flexibility.

Rule Number 5 – Build your self-belief

Belief in your own ability is a better predictor of success than actual skill level. And of course you need skill too!

If you are new leader, what rule do you most need to understand and follow right now? What’s the first step? Who can you enlist to support you? What are the implications if you ignore it?

To learn more about the 5 Rules of the New Game plus three common Mistakes with costly productivity impacts, download a copy of my White Paper ‘New leaders: How to be confident and productive right from the start’ from the Extraordinary Future website.

Got tips for new leaders? Want to share your experience of the 5 rules? Let me know what you are thinking on my blog page.