Top 5 crucial things for New Leaders


5 Things New Leaders need to learn

Are you a new Manager or Leader? You are likely transitioning from managing yourself to managing others.

From my work as a leadership coach, and working with new emerging leaders, I find that I am often asked the same questions. How do I motivate my reports, how do I get them to do what I want them to do, or how do I get them to take ownership?

To kick-start your transition to leader, and get the biggest bang for your buck, learn these 5 things.

  1. Leave time in your schedule for others.

    Before you became a leader, you only had to think about yourself and performing at peak. Now you need to think about how to get members of your team to reach peak performance. This requires a big fundamental shift. I have deliberately listed it as number one, as I believe it is fundamental to a successful transition. Take an interest in your direct reports, invest in them and they will invest in you and the organization. Think about the principal of Reciprocity (the old give and take approach used in influencing others). Find out what their career goals are and how you can help them get there. Start asking them questions. What are your strengths? How can I help serve you? What do you need? Are there any obstacles in your way? Do you need any training? It is also useful to do a check-in on your assumptions regarding them to ensure that you are seeing the best in others, rather than looking for faults. Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term Servant Leadership.

  2. Think about WHO you want to be as a leader.

    Take some time to think about the leaders you worked for, and reflect on what you liked about their style. You could complete the sentence …in 3 years time when I meet a previous direct report on the street; this is what they would say about me as a leader. “That is the leader that got great results, or that is the leader that really challenged me to grow and develop”. This step could involve coming up with a vision statement for who you want to be as a leader.

  3. Leadership is public, so you need to be vulnerable and get comfortable taking risks.

    You need to learn to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Being a leader is a new adventure! You may make a mistake, but that is ok as long as you learn from it and have some self-compassion for yourself along the way. Remember the formula for confidence is: Risk + Success + Internal Attribution = Confidence. Internal Attribution is about asking, how did I achieve the success and what exactly did I do? Refrain from attributing your successes to luck (external) and your failures to self (internal). Relly Nadler, a great professor of mine from True North Leadership says, “Be on your side and not on your case!”.

  4. Conflict – you need to get comfortable with conflict.

    As a leader, it is not always possible to be everyone’s best friend. Finding that balance is going to take some time and involve some experimentation. You are now the leader of a team of individuals and you almost certainly have to give negative feedback. This is especially difficult if you got promoted within your original peer group. Annie McKee suggests seeking out your peers for friendship, rather than looking up (your boss) or down (your direct reports).

  5. Delegating

    Maybe a task is easier to do yourself. That way you have control over a task and you know it will be done properly. But what will that achieve in the long run? Your direct reports will not have the opportunity to excel. In addition, you will end up being very busy yourself, not to mention stressed out. Further, if you finish off tasks for them, you are setting up the expectation that you are ok with a half-done job. Be aware of the messages you are sending.

    So where do you start with Delegation?

    Starting small is always best. Who is the one person that you trust? Who is both capable and highly engaged? Make sure to give clear expectations and suggest check-in points for your own reassurance. Mention resources that they can use. Depending on the task and the person, your level of detail may be different. As much as possible, give some autonomy/flexibility on the HOW to do a task. Be clear on accountabilities and how you will measure results. This point is especially powerful for distributed members of the team. Finally do not forget to mention the vision and the context to ensure that they understand how this tasks fits into the bigger picture.

Nicola McCrabbe, is a Leadership Coach, Workshop Facilitator and Agile Meet-up group co-organizer. Reach her at

She works with newly appointed and established leaders who want to “up their game” and bring their teams to the next level.