Archives September 2019

Three Things to Remember on Your First Day as a Leader

If you Google the term ‘first day as a manager,’ you’ll get almost three billion results.

What does that tell us? 

That a lot of people are looking for ways to succeed as a new leader, boss, or manager. 

It also tells us there are a lot of people offering advice on how to do so. 

But what if I told you there are only three things you need to remember to succeed on your first day as a manager? 

I’ve been the new boss many times. 

Each time, I found myself with more responsibility and in charge of more people. 

And each time, there was a nagging voice in my head telling me the same thing: I was in over my head.

When self-doubt creeps in, it doesn’t just affect the impression our employees, peers, and bosses have of us—or how we see ourselves. It can also have lasting negative effects on our performance and success at work. 

Here are three things you should know to quiet self-doubt and be the best boss possible:

1. Your boss has confidence in you.

You’re in a leadership position for a reason.

I once told my boss that I didn’t think I was ready for my pending promotion. 

It didn’t take long to get sent out of his office with the words, “I’ll be the judge of when you’re ready,” still ringing in my ears. 

Fear of leadership failure is a real thing. Remember, your boss believes you’re ready to lead or you wouldn’t be there. So run with it!

If you want to explore this topic further, don’t miss this post. 

2. Don’t rush.

I remember seeing a brash young captain standing in front of his new command. 

The first words out of his mouth were: “there’s a new sheriff in town and there’s going to be changes…” He looked like an idiot.

In that moment, he completely lost all credibility. 

What could he have done differently?

He should have entered calmly and slowly, asking people for their names and stories, instead of assuming everything needed fixing and stomping on toes. 

On your first day as a new manager, come in with the knowledge that it’s going to take time to get to know the staff and the way things work. From there, you can determine which adjustments need to be made. 

It might feel like there are a million things you want to hurry to get done on your first day, each more important than the last. That’s why I’ve written this post for dealing with competing priorities. 

3. Spend time with your boss and your peers.

This is advice not only for your first day as a manager, but on every day after that: Spend as much time with your boss as you can. 

Ask them what their performance objectives are and how you can contribute to their success. This demonstrates your value and establishes your place as a great asset to the company. 

Want to learn more about partnering with your boss? Be sure to visit this post. 

You should also invest in getting to know your team whenever you can. 

These people can help you navigate your new environment. And quite frankly, if you’re offside with them, they can contribute to your failure.

Almost all advice to a new leader is to invest in their employees during the early days of their new position. Your employees are important. But if you don’t understand what your boss wants or your peer team needs, you’re in for a rough ride.

Your first day as a new leader is just that—one day. Don’t expect to overhaul a company or predict your own failure before you’ve even had a chance to start. Remember: you were chosen to lead for a reason. 

Come in with a good attitude, an open mind, and a willingness to connect with your boss, peers, and employees. It will go a long way. 

Keeping these things in mind will help you succeed not only on your first day as a new manager, but throughout the rest of your career. 

If you’re interested in going deeper or moving your career to the next level, you’ll also want to have a look at my 1-on-1 coaching services.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check these out, too:

Micromanaging is a Good Thing
9 Stupid Management Practices (and what to do instead)
The 6T’s To Know What To Delegate

This article was originally published on March 14, 2016, and has been updated.


4 Questions You Should Learn to Ask Yourself

As a young leader in the Army, I used to ask my soldiers: ‘How are you doing?’

Guess what the answers were. Fine. Good. Okay.

What did I gain from those conversations? Nothing useful.

A mentor suggested that I start asking:

  • What are you doing?
  • Do you understand why you are doing this?
  • When did you eat last?
  • What do you need to help you do your job?

Read more about how to use silence to ask questions

I started getting information that was much more valuable in helping to understand what was going on.

Great questions can reveal tremendous information.

The questions you ask as a leader can reveal the values you hold, your priorities, and reinforce behaviours which you may or may not like. 

But too often, leaders reveal the gaps that exist between what they say and what they want and do.

Here are four questions leaders should be asking themselves.

  1. What would a great leader do at this moment?

Imagine framing your perspective with the lens of what great leaders would do in the situation in which you find yourself.

The standard is raised immediately for the options available, the best actions to pursue, and the right words to use.

Great leaders ask this question to push themselves beyond their limitations, biases and planning assumptions.

  1. What did I do today to enable my team to be better, or did I do something that held my team back?

Leaders touch everyone with their actions and in their conversations.  Often, there are unintended consequences from what they do and say.

Read about the 6 Essential Questions You Can Ask Children & Employees

Great leaders constantly review, assess and learn from what they do and say making adjustments along the way, revealing their value of continual learning.

  1. If I could do one thing in the next 10 minutes, what would be the best thing to do?

Time management is critical as a leader.

When a meeting ends early, great leaders seize upon the found sliver of time to invest in getting things done, which usually involves building a relationship with an employee.

Your behaviour during these slivers of found time reveals your priorities.

  1. Who’s hiding from me?  Who haven’t I met with recently?

While it’s easy to rationalize that an employee is working well on their own, is independent and self-motivated, great leaders know that relationships with all employees need tending.

Sustaining and growing inter-personal relationships with employees earn the leader the right to lead.

Growing your leadership impact requires you to reach beyond the limits of your personality and style.  And it’s in those moments of stretch that you begin to build your leadership muscles.

Read about the 3 questions that would have stopped me from wasting $20,000

Coaching Thoughts

  1. Think back over the last several conversations you’ve had with employees and consider what values do you think you revealed?
  2. In each meeting you have over the next 48 hours, write/type ‘What Would a Great Leader Do’ at the top of your notes. Then grab a coffee and reflect on the experiment.