Learn to lead with these key strategies, even without experience


This guide outlines the sensible strategies when you are starting to learn to lead, in any business or career field.

For anybody progressing in their career, leading a team is one of those things that teaches you so much about yourself. We can all feel that temptation to step up to this challenge, but what happens if you’re tasked with leading a team in a field that you know nothing about?

Managing experts in a specialized domain is daunting. However, it’s not impossible to learn to lead a group of individuals to glory when you know nothing about what they specialize in. There’s a number of different components at play here. Let’s show you what you need to do.

Learn to lead: strategies

Leading a team when you know nothing about the team is going to be an education, but you also need to remember that everybody doesn’t know everything. A great leader doesn’t necessarily know everything, but they play it like a game of chess. They understand who is best utilized in certain areas. 

While you may be in charge of a marketing team and you have yet to learn the basics of Technical SEO, on-page SEO, and EEAT, that doesn’t mean you lack expertise. You have to remember that you are bringing a fresh perspective on things.

Lots of organizations believe that leaders should be there for the sake of the business and need to understand what the business is doing rather than the actual subject. The reality is that there’s a blend between the two.

A great leader will have that big-picture thinking that helps the team position themselves effectively within your organization’s structure. Your strengths lie in guiding a team effectively. This is where that chess analogy comes back into play when you learn to lead. You need to understand who they are as people and based on the skills they have that allow them to fit seamlessly into a particular vision.

You should also commit to some form of self-education in the subject matter. There is no point in being ignorant of the subject matter, but as you go on, you will learn the subject’s place in the bigger picture. A basic understanding is something that we can all overlook.

Many people are fearful of asking the basics, thinking they will look stupid. This is where a growth mindset is critical. There are business behemoths like Tony Robbins who run so many different organizations, and it’s very clear that he can’t possibly understand every single thing unless he has a system in place! His analogy is to ask someone to explain something to him with simple tools like “it’s an orange” or “like he’s a five-year-old.” 

What people are so fearful of when they first learn to lead is thinking that because they’re hearing an abundance of technical terms being thrown at them, they just need to keep schtum and press on and do their job in generically leading a team, which means line managing, micromanaging, and these things that can be very detrimental to a team. Continuous learning is tough, but if you can learn how to dedicate yourself to the subject matter, this, by proxy, means you’re dedicated to the team and its success.

You must also remember that, while you may be leading a team, you don’t necessarily have to be in charge of it. You are merely the one who’s reporting the numbers and ensuring the work gets done.

Empowering your team members to make certain decisions within their domain is far more effective because they are the subject matter experts, not you. So when you encourage autonomy and provide that essential support, you are improving the work rate and their morale at the same time.

Communication is Always Key

It is constantly referred to as the key to being a great leader, but we all know that communication is the thing that binds us all together. When you lack expertise in your team’s field, you’ve got to leverage your most valuable skill: listening.

When you listen to your team members, encourage them to share their insights and knowledge, and ask open-ended questions so you start to foster an open forum. We have to remember that we are leading a team, but we don’t have to be the person who cracks the whip in the old-fashioned way. It’s far more beneficial for us to encourage people to share their insights and knowledge when we learn to lead. This is why communication becomes so important.

Transparency is so important and is your secret weapon. Acknowledging you’re not an expert in the subject matter puts you at an advantage. We still live in an age where people feel like they need to be the “big and powerful leader.” The reality is that leading is a combination of soft skills and building trust in those followers.

There are countless examples of leaders who are not leading from the front but leading alongside their team. Transparent communication, by allowing your team to understand your perspective, will make it easier to bridge the gaps in knowledge.

When a team does not have trust and someone is brought in from the outside to whip people into shape, communication becomes the core component. There is a time when you need to develop an understanding between the two areas. It can be an us versus them approach, and this can widen the gulf further if you are not transparent.

As part of your role, you need to be clear. The team needs to understand where they are in terms of the big picture, but they also need to know what their goals are. While everybody may have their specific duties, you need to make sure that you prioritize efficiency.

There can be a bit of kickback when people are asked to do different things, and therefore, when you redefine roles and responsibilities, this takes ambiguity out of the equation and it helps everybody work towards a clear objective. Part of communication when you learn to lead is about clarity.

Trust, Transparency, and Truthfulness

The three T’s are absolutely essential to improving that relationship. One of the biggest problems many leaders have is that they are forever focused on the result, and therefore this influences how they lead. If you can be trustworthy, transparent, and truthful, this will go a long way in building a solid team. Being honest about your limitations is a psychological hurdle that we need to get over. 

Many leaders have worked their way up the ladder thinking that they need to steer the ship. This means that they believe the only way to get results is to be the strong and stable type.

Leading is a far more holistic practice than we give it credit for. One of the biggest concerns we can have when we acknowledge we don’t know something is that this instantly makes our team fearful of our abilities. But we all have to start somewhere when we learn to lead.

You may have a team that espouses technical data, and this can instantly be overwhelming for us. Rather than pretending to understand and be focused on the fact that you need to show enthusiasm or understanding, start on the right foot by being honest and genuine. This will be far better in the long run because they will appreciate your authenticity.

Trust is about believing our team will excel when we are giving them free rein. Your job is to be effective. You have a structure in place that hits those targets and or deadlines. They are the experts, not you.

However, one of the major problems we can all suffer from as line managers when we first learn to lead is the temptation to look like we are “managing.” Those jobsworth types can be very good at making it look like they are doing stuff, but they’re not getting the results. This is, in effect, a learned behavior. 

Finding leaders who have a far more holistic approach is hard to find, but this is where those lesser-experienced individuals who have worked their way up the ladder can benefit. Seeing every part of the organization from the office floor all the way to a leader position fosters a far more authentic approach to the concept of leading.

Bringing someone in who’s been in charge of another team in a totally different industry can bring a certain skill set, but they will still think that to get results they need to do a certain type of leading, but they don’t understand it from the inside.

To create an environment that fosters collaboration, you have to ensure there is mutual respect. Encouraging team members to share insights and to learn from each other won’t just get the job done, but it will create that community. It means that people will want to come to the office and thrive off that electricity that can be so inspiring.

How to Avoid Being Out of Your Depth

While leading a team is about trust, communication, and leveraging your strengths, there is, of course, that insecurity that creeps in. We can all feel out of our depth when we firs learn to lead because we sometimes don’t know what to do either because of the subject matter or because everything seems to be falling apart at the seams. This is when we need to fall back onto some trusted tactics.

Delegating properly is essential because you can recognize individual strengths and allocate responsibilities accordingly. When we delegate, we take the pressure off ourselves, of course, but this is the prime opportunity to recognize individual strengths. Not everybody needs to do the same thing, and if you go back to that chess analogy and understand where everyone’s individual strengths lie in terms of skill and expertise half the job is done for you.

Seeking guidance is also another key area. Some people believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s important to live in the real world and remember that you may be in charge of a team that can do the job way better than you.

If you feel that you’re not delivering because of things being lost in translation, you need to seek guidance from those individual team members relating to their expertise. This is critical to guarantee their success. But again, we all feel like if we say we don’t know how to do something, this is a sign of weakness. You have been put in this position for a reason, and therefore, you’re not expected to know the subject inside out. Where your strengths lie is in the ability to move all those pieces in the right direction.

We also need to remember that a leader is not just someone who is steering the ship, but they are there to help the team succeed. We have to address any challenges that the team encounters. We have to do this promptly, but we also need to understand that as any project will have a bump in the road, we need to not just mitigate the fallout in terms of the tasks, but also the lack of morale it can create. This is why having a very structured approach to achieving tasks and being incremental with smaller deadlines, rather than big ones, will keep people going in the right direction. 

It can be very overwhelming to deliver that final project or project, but this is where you break down a task into a number of component parts. This doesn’t just mean that you are progressing nicely, but you also get a greater insight into the processes and if what you are pitching is suitable to their needs. When you acknowledge their hard work, this doesn’t just keep morale high during those tough times, but it will increase their motivation.


Whether you are looking to boost your customer retention strategy, lead a marketing team to success, or put some structure in place for your in-house IT team, every leader at some point, has had very little understanding of the subject matter.

While there can be a school of thought that subscribes to the fact we need to understand the subject inside and out, this is not part of the leader’s job description. A leader is not someone who has to understand every aspect of the business but where their strengths lie is in being a people person that can leverage each individual to complement each other and not just create an efficient working practice but also complement each other and build that team spirit.

You may think you know nothing when you first learn to lead, but when it comes to leading a team you may, in fact, know everything.

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