Your First Few days as a Leader by Mark Wager

Your First Few days as a Leader by Mark Wager

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Your First Few Days As A Leader

By Mark Wager

You’ve got the news that you’ve been waiting for. The panel was so impressed with what you had to say at the interview that you’ve just been informed the job is yours. Congratulations! You are now the new Team Leader. After the hugs and high-fives the focus switches from celebration to the harsh cold reality of what’s ahead of you. You are now managing people who present many challenges but even more challenging, you have to lead them. You are now responsible for creating a motivating and engaging environment for people to work within. How do you go about doing this? Where do you start?

I’ve been a Manager for nearly twenty five years, starting in retail as a teenager and then moving to London to become a Broker Sales Manager in my twenties and I worked in senior managerial roles in the public service in my thirties. Today I have my own businesses specialising in sharing my experiences in order to develop leaders. Let me share a few tips on what you need to do when you first take over a team.

Tip One: Share your philosophy

Widely regarded as the best Football manager in the world, Jose Mourinho always does the same thing whenever he starts a new role. He sends an open letter to his new team detailing his philosophy of leadership. In summary he explains his belief that success is a collective endeavour and each individual's ambition must connect to the team’s ambition or goal. He stresses his commitment to be fair but warns everyone that the decisions he makes will be in the best interest of the wider organisation. Finally he commits to making the team members the best they can be if and only if they commit to his way of working.

Every leader has a philosophy but in most cases the team only tends to find out about that philosophy through the leaders actions. When you start with a team make it clear at the outset what you are about. Let everyone know what leadership means to you. In this way your team doesn’t have to guess.

Tip Two: Identify personal ambitions

The next stage is to meet with your new team members individually. This is a fact finding process and a good opportunity to learn about the history and current environment that you are entering into. Most leaders miss the number one thing you want to take away from these meetings. You need to identify each and every person’s personal ambition so that you can attempt to align that ambition to the team’s objectives. Think of this as finding the code that will unlock commitment within each individual. There are a lot of articles published on motivation and I should know this as I’ve written quite a few myself. Fundamentally, high levels of commitment eventuate when your team believes unconditionally that working for you will help take them to where they want to be. The truth is that people will work hard to benefit other people but will work with sweat, blood and tears to benefit themselves.

Tip Three: Set down a standard of performance

In order to be effective the team needs to be fully aware of the expectations placed upon them in terms of behaviour. This is an interesting area and a lot of Leaders I’ve met tend to either spend too much time on this or too little both of which end up with negative consequences. Getting the balance right is vital. Some leaders come to a new team and expect that everyone shares the same values and work ethic. “I don’t need to tell them what to do they are all adults” soon behaviours occur which do not fit within the leader’s expectations and time is spent addressing those behaviours. On the opposite end of the scale I’ve seen leaders dictate in great detail what everyone needs to do. "I’m just doing it so that there’s no confusion” the fine detailing of every aspect of work removes the independence that team members value and undermines the perception of their worth to the team. Invest time in setting down simple expectations of what behaviours you expect without detailing every single action. A tip is to focus on behaviours rather than outcomes. Keep the outcomes as a team based focus. Consider including the team in establishing these expectations. In my experience Leaders have been surprised by what the team comes up with. In many cases it’s a higher standard than the leader was originally going to set.

In my experience of forming new teams the nature of industry never seemed to impact how I approached setting up a team. Whether it was setting up a shoe shop in Birmingham or creating a new sales team in a finance house in London or even setting up a new Government department in New Zealand , I've learnt that people are people.

Be honest, be upfront and be visible and you won't go wrong.

Now it's your turn to become an inspirational leader

Elite LD Limited offers a range of services that can turn smart, determined people into world-class inspirational leaders. A leadership consultancy firm based In New Zealand Elite LD provides team building workshops as well as specialised one-on-one training for anyone who is seeking assistance in developing all the necessary skills required to be a quality leader. Contact Elite LD today in order to find out how you can become an inspirational leader.

If you like this article then check out the new book by Mark Wager. The Elite Guide To Leadership is available for $2.99USD at Amazon

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Posted: Monday 19 May 2014


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