5 Steps to make an impact in your first leadership role


Stepping up into your first leadership role can be exciting — and overwhelming at the same time. When you secure your first leadership role, it is essential to demonstrate how you will lead the team with confidence.

5 Steps to make an impact in your first leadership role

If you have the passion to be a leader and want to feel prepared to lead a team from day one in your first leadership role, I share the five steps to launch yourself and have an immediate impact.

  1. Set the tone

As the leader you will have the biggest influence on the culture of your team. It is important in your first leadership role to set the expectations upfront on how the team will work together. What will be the expected values and behaviours of the team?  Often your organisation will already have a set of values, which is a great starting point. Then you will want to consider what specific or additional values are needed for your team to be successful.

For example, your team may be responsible for an innovation project. So you may want to focus on collaboration and innovation with your team members. It can be helpful to create some behavioural statements to demonstrate what the value means in practice. See the examples below:

Team Value: Collaboration

Team Behaviours:

  • We include each other in any decisions that impact the team
  • In meetings, we make sure each team members has a say

Team Value: Innovation

Team Behaviours:

  • When brainstorming, we view everyone’s idea as a starting point to create something together
  • We constantly review our processes and ways of doing things to look for ways to work smarter and faster

To effectively communicate this, find creative ways to share these with your new team members. For example, you may hold a team building session where you demonstrate the values and behaviours as part of the day. Have some fun with it by using themes and activities in your team meetings and events.

  1. Establish the one big goal!

Next you will want to define your team’s ONE BIG GOAL. It is critical your team doesn’t become just a group of people who report to the same manager. If you want your team to truly be a team — in the real sense of the word — there needs to be a common purpose. What are you all striving to achieve? What will create that feeling that people are “in this together”? You want to avoid getting stuck early in your first leadership role by creating a team of people with conflicting agendas.

Spending the time setting the goals and scene of your vision for the team and sharing the common objective is a great starting position for you as a leader. You will gain credibility if you communicate this in a team meeting and then ask the team to contribute to how the ONE BIG GOAL will be achieved.

  1. Communicate with the team

To communicate most effectively with your team you want to establish a cadence. As a general rule, I recommend a 3-meeting cadence:

  1. Regular 1:1s with each of your team members
  2. Weekly Operational Team Meetings
  3. Monthly Strategic Team Meetings

You need to make this work for your situation, such as having 15-minute daily check-ins if leading a remote team during a pandemic. If you have a project running, hold daily stand-up meetings for progress updates and resolving roadblocks.

You will have other meetings to attend now that you are a leader, so you will need to get smart with how you schedule your meetings.

Please note, don’t wait for meetings to communicate important information. Hold a quick chat so that the team hear before the email announcements. Also, if you need to provide feedback to a team member, do it as close to the event as possible, DO NOT wait until their next 1:1 or annual performance review meeting.

  1. Give team members a fresh start

When you start with your new team in your first leadership role, it is crucial to give them a fresh start. Put aside any judgements you have about the team members and resist listening to the opinions of others. This step is important because the way people behave at work can be influenced by their leaders’ style, team dynamics and personal situations. It is your role as a leader to create a great team culture and understand what leadership style motivates your team members.

It can be challenging to put aside your own beliefs. But if you can master this, it can set you apart as a great leader. To let go of those existing judgements, it may be helpful to remember a time that you, or a friend, had a difficult experience in the workplace. In your career have you ever lacked the motivation to come to work? Or been in a situation when you didn’t get along with your boss? Or do you have a friend who constantly complains about work and behaves out of character? Should you or your friend be forever judged on that one situation or out of the ordinary behaviour?

If you take the approach to view your team members with fresh eyes, it can influence their attitude. It is also possible to inspire change in their behaviours and outcomes.

  1. Empower your team

One of the most important part of a leaders’ role is to encourage team members to lead themselves. This frees up your time for your new responsibilities as a leader in the organisation.

To do this effectively, you will need to coach your team members until they are ready to fully take on their responsibilities. Do not assume when your team member is highly enthusiastic that they are also competent. They may still need coaching when faced with a new situation or task.

When you have a team member who wants to be “empowered”, communicate the expectation that they will be handed over accountability and your role will now be to support them. Be clear about what empowerment means.

As a final note, empowerment is really about you. Remember a boss who didn’t allow you to take responsibility for your own work, or a time when you felt micromanaged? They were most likely uncomfortable with not being in control.  To avoid being that boss, you will need to get comfortable with letting go of control. For example, allowing people to do things their way, not necessarily the way you would do it.

Now that you have the 5 steps to establish yourself in your first leadership role, you can feel confident to lead your team and evolve your own leadership style along the way. You Got This!

About Michelle Johns


Michelle Johns provides leadership coaching programs to empower women in leading a team with confidence. Michelle is currently offering a Free Leadership Strategy Audit where she helps you with the one big struggle you are currently facing in leading your team. Book here. If you want to learn more about Michelle’s coaching programs, email michelle@thelarsenc.com.

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