Leadership Skills for New Managers: What New Leaders Need to Know

If you’re a newly appointed manager, you’re probably learning (hopefully not the hard way!) that leadership is a lot more than making decisions and delegating tasks. Leadership is a complex and ever-changing craft – and it takes time and practice to master.

The good news is that we’re here for you, and there are some specific leadership mindsets, skills, and strategies that can help novice supervisors become effective team leaders in no time.

In this article, we’ll walk you through six essential leadership skills and capabilities that all new leaders should master. We’ll cover topics like delegation, performance management, managing conflict, and much more.

Think of this article as a foundation upon which you can build your leadership skill stack. When you build on a firm foundation, there is no telling how high you might go.

New Manager Skill #1: Listening.

Not what you were expecting, eh? We put listening first in this article because failing to listen to team members is the first big mistake that most first-time leaders are likely to make. Getting promoted to a management position can be alluring to the ego. “They put me in charge. That means they must want more of ME.”

Whoa there, greenhorn. Ever heard of “servant leadership?” If not, google it and come back to us. Attentively listening to team members builds trust, fosters collaboration, and improves decision making. Plus, it’s just good manners.

New Manager Skill #2: Time Management.

Welcome to a world where your calendar is perpetually full, and there are more things to do than there are hours in the day. A new phenomenon known as “meetings” are starting to slowly take over your calendar.

Effective time management is crucial to ensure you’re focusing on the right things, and not getting consumed by day-to-day tasks at the expense of strategic thinking and team development. Remember a couple things:

  • Prioritize Strategically. Not all tasks are created equally. Some are critical and directly linked to your team’s goals, while others are less important. Use a tool like the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Consider delegating tasks that are urgent but not important.
  • Block Time for Important Activities. It’s easy for your day to get filled up with meetings, leaving you no time for strategic thinking or team development. To prevent this, block out time on your calendar for these activities. This could include time for planning, one-on-one meetings with your team members, or even just thinking time. Treat these blocks as important appointments and try to minimize interruptions during these periods.

New Manager Skill #3: Delegation.

This is an art, not just a task. Proper delegation helps you to manage your workload while empowering your team members and contributing to their growth. Delegate not just based on current capabilities, but also with an eye on individuals’ potential and career aspirations. Remember, delegation is not about offloading work, but about ensuring the right people are doing the right tasks.

A former BetterCulture client introduced us to a term “powergate.” He shared that he tried not to think of delegation as the offloading of tasks. Instead, he looked at delegation as a transference of the power to set direction and to make decisions.

For a bit more clarity on the “5 Levels of Delegation” see Michael Hyatt’s great book Free to Focus.

New Manager Skill #4: Performance Management.

As a manager, it’s your job to help your team perform at its best. This involves setting clear goals, monitoring progress, providing constructive feedback, and addressing performance issues promptly and professionally. It’s not always easy, but it’s crucial for the success of your team. Remember, your role is not to be a critic, but a coach – guiding your team towards better performance.

Performance management takes practice. Don’t put conversations off because you are unsure or uncomfortable. Lean in. You will learn and your team will grow.

New Manager Skill #5: Conflict Resolution.

Workplace conflicts are inevitable. How you handle them can make all the difference. Developing effective conflict resolution skills can help you manage team dynamics, maintain a positive work environment, and ensure that conflicts lead to constructive outcomes, rather than discord.

Look for role models in your organization who navigate conflict exceptionally well. Watch them. Study them. And put your learnings into action. Dealing with challenging, conflictual conversations is probably the number one thing that trips up new managers.

The bad news is, it’s no fun. The good news is, it’s another area where practice and experience are your friends.

New Manager Skill #6: Coaching and Mentoring.

As a manager, you’re not just there to supervise your team’s work, but also to help them learn, grow, and succeed in their careers. BetterCulture teaches that managers should be committed to their team members’ success – both at work and in life.

Invest time in coaching and mentoring your team members, helping them to develop their skills, overcome challenges, and achieve their potential. Remember, your success as a leader is ultimately measured by the success of your team. Leadership isn’t about who the leader is today. It’s about who the team will become tomorrow.

As outlined in this article, becoming a successful manager is a journey, not a destination. You’ll face challenges along the way, and you’ll also experience the immense satisfaction that comes from leading a team to success.

Keep learning, keep growing, and remember that your role as a leader is not just about achieving results, but also about helping others to achieve their best.

The world needs more leaders who are not just effective, but also caring, compassionate, and committed to their team’s success. Are you ready to be one of them?

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