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For some, their professional endeavors include leading others. At one time or another, most of us who strive for this have had the image of ourselves in the corner office, floor to ceiling glass windows, marveling at where we are. Do you want to know what you have in common with the people in that image right now? They were once where you are - the first time/new manager.
Becoming a first time or a new manager can be exhilarating and intimidating all at once. On one hand, you are not entirely new to your job. You understand the academic side of it. You aren't at entry level anymore. But, stepping into the role of a new manager is different. You will feel differently, and the way people respond to you will shift. Whether you are promoting from within or stepping in as an outside hire, here are some tips to start your new leadership role off on the right foot.
Be a leader, not a boss
Television and the movies get it wrong: Leadership isn’t sitting in your office barking orders atpeople or asking people to do things you have never done. It’s getting your hands dirty and showing people that you’re willing to walk a mile in their shoes. It’s about creating a sense of camaraderie and teamwork so that everyone feels that they are working toward a shared goal. It’s about leading by example so you can earn the trust of your team. A combination of these things is how you become a leader people will trust, respect, and want to follow.
A unique challenge of management can be that it is hard to model good management practices because so much of it happens in private. For example, how do they conduct their 1:1's with employees? What is their process for employee evaluations? How do they develop goals for employees to hit? Rather than presume to know the answers to any or all of these questions, ask! Take the time to ask others who have come before you what their process is and then adapt it for yourself.
See also: Two Secrets to Being a Great Leader
Establish a leadership style
When it comes to how you will lead, you have some choices. The path you take mostly depends on not only who you are as a person but your employees, your business, and others you may interact with on a regular basis. For example, if you are managing teams of people, you may want to adopt a participative leadership style where everyone feels their contribution matters. You want to get in the habit of asking yourself how your employees will respond to your approach as a leader.
Get up and meet people
Please do not spend your entire working day slumped over in an office with no human interaction. Some of the most valuable information you can gather will come directly from the people who will be working for you. Tap into this demographic so that you can ensure that you have a staff that feels like their opinions matter. You also want to do the same for those who manage you. Don't be afraid to have conversations with people above you to get an idea of what their perspective on things is and any takeaways they have for you.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg felt so strongly about this she not only coined this term but built a brand around it. The premise? Exactly how it sounds, lean in. In management especially, you should always be actively listening when you have a conversation with people. Physically lean in when someone is talking to you. Do not take a passive approach. As a leader, it is important to lead with confidence and not be someone who fades into the background, and there is no better place to demonstrate this then with your interactions with other people.
Read next: 5 Business Practices to Keep Employees Happy
Bridge the generation gap
In our present workforce landscape, it is not uncommon to have a millennial managing a baby boomer. If you find yourself in this position, remember to maintain perspective. You may have very well been in diapers when they started working their first job. Try to think about how your role feels to them. Be aware that some millennial managers strive to go above and beyond to erase any 'self-entitled' stigma they have inadvertently received. If you identify with this, don't go above and beyond. Prove yourself the same way you would in any other new role. Most importantly, never assume that because someone is younger than you that they have no idea what they are doing or that someone older than you does not have their finger on the pulse any longer.
Plan an outing or an event
One of the best ways to foster relationships is by building trust. One of the ways you can go about doing this is to plan an outing where you can get to know your employees and vice versa. Leaving an office setting allows people to not only relax but gives you a window in who they are aside from work. Remember to maintain the boundaries of the manager and employee. Any pre-existing relationship you may have had or friendships you want to build need to be put aside. Mixing the two worlds will come back to haunt you when the time comes to address work-related issues.
Don’t be too eager to please
As a new manager, one of your main goals may be to try to please everyone. First off, not everyone you meet will love you. Secondly, trying to please everyone on your team is a formula for disaster, mainly because you end up making promises that you cannot keep. When this happens, a ripple effect begins, and all that trust that you tried to build with people will go out the window. A large part of leading by example is keeping your word to those in your charge.
Read next: 7 Smart Habits for Small Business Owners
Never stop networking
Just because you are in the role you have been working towards for some time does not mean it is time to cease networking, even with those who already know you professionally. They may be people you have met before and encountered within your professional world but have they met you as a manager? Regardless, having the opportunity to meet people is great for you to showcase your new role while also promoting your employer.
It’s a learning process
As a manager, it is your responsibility to confront the elephants in the room, however uncomfortable this may be. Practice makes permanent so strive never to stop learning. The ways of the business world are constantly evolving, your employees are developing and you should too as a manager. Even though you are in a leadership role, it does not mean you have figured everything out- you have just begun.
This communication is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an advertisement, a solicitation, or constitute professional advice, including legal, financial, or tax advice, nor is StreetShares providing advice on any particular situation.