5 Things Every New Leader Should Know

Taking a step into your first leadership role can be daunting. Here's five starting points to help you on the way.

Whether you’re leading a startup of 3 people or inheriting a team of 50, the challenges of leadership will always be the same. You’ll need to address issues like performance management, team motivation, and employee engagement, alongside encouraging generational, gender and cultural diversity and equality. All while driving your team to achieve set business goals and aims, on a daily basis. And don’t forget about the myriad of reports, meetings and business development responsibilities you’ll need to read/write/attend or contribute to.

Feeling lost in the maze already?

There are many different factors here and it’s not just about your practical skills and experience. Being a great leader is about having the right mindset and qualities that will ultimately make you a success. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the role or have been donning the leader cap for a decade. Without the right mindset, you’ll be plagued by failure.

Internationally renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck details this further in her bestselling book: ‘Mindset: The Psychology of Success’. She describes how talent and abilities can be built through positive actions and the process of continued learning and improvement. She calls this the Growth Mindset and it’s crucial in a successful leader.

But what does that really look like in the workplace?

Below are 5 leadership mindset qualities you should know and be able to act upon if you’re a new leader:

1.You Have Aligned Vision to the Company Goals

This means you can demonstrate strong comprehension around what your company is trying to achieve overall – strategically or otherwise. It means you have an understanding of how your role as a leader impacts this and what you – and your team – need to be doing to help achieve it.

Andre Lavoie, CEO of the talent alignment company ClearCompany suggests:

“You can do this by helping employees visualize how their specific project dovetails with company-wide strategies.”

If you don’t know, or worse, don’t believe in the vision or goals of the company it will drip through to your team in subconscious ways. Spend some time thinking on this one. If you can’t find a connection to the company, this might not be the right leadership role for you.

2. All of Your Actions Result in Accountability – Good or Bad

Businesses want leaders who can respond proactively, especially when trying to achieve tough goals. It’s worth remembering that actions are always accompanied by accountability.

When your actions achieve desired results, that’s great – but sometimes they won’t. Businesses also want leaders who take accountability when it goes wrong, are able to reflect on their actions and plan accordingly for future scenarios. A great leader knows that failure is a growth opportunity for ways they, or their team, can be better next time. If a problem arises, it’s your role to find the best solutions and make a judgment call.

“Failure is information-we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’ ”
– Carol Dweck

3. You Can Inspire Impact

As a leader, you’ll be responsible for inspiring your team to create impact – and that’s how you’ll, in turn, create an impact. You have to get your team on board with the company vision and business goals – and you’ll likely have to do this with teams who don’t always see eye to eye.

Strong leaders inspire impact through their actions – they do what they say they’re going to do and the team follows their lead.

This skill is also about people management. Empathy and compassion are highly underrated qualities in a leader, but knowing your team as individuals, what their aspirations in life are will mean you understand what motivates them. And that’s the first step in inspiring them.

4. You Can Create Team Connections

As mentioned, your team won’t always see eye to eye and it’s your job to get them singing from the same hymn sheet. A strong leader does this by knowing their team, their strengths and weaknesses, and fully utilizing them to their advantage.

By acknowledging individual strengths, you can create a cohesive team, who each know the role and value they bring to the ‘bigger picture’. Honest, clear and actionable feedback is crucial from a leader who wants to get the most from their team: even when that feedback is identifying weaker areas. Letting your team know that you see potential in them turns weaknesses into growth areas, and allows your team to still feel valued and respected.

5. You Have Ambition and Not Just for Yourself

All leaders are ambitious – it’s why they become leaders. But the greatest leaders aren’t just ambitious for their own benefit. They exhibit all of the above and work for companies they truly believe in. They’re ambitious for the success of all around them and are selfless in the pursuit of that success.

Gina Soleil is a leading Business Coach and speaker and she agrees on this point. In her article for Forbes she highlights:

“Always follow your intuition it will never steer you wrong. If you’re not happy don’t stay because of the “golden handcuffs”. Choose to love what you do and people will love you for it.”

Whether it’s by introducing new ideas, challenging the status quo or driving positive change: Great leaders are always working to make things better.

If you’re just starting out as a leader in your field, reflect on the type of leader you want to be. Think about leaders who have inspired you and what qualities they exhibited that made you think they were a great leader.

And then do the same.

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