The First Things To Do in a New Leadership Role

Updated on April 18, 2023
The First Things To Do in a New Leadership Role

The first days and weeks in a new leadership position are critical to your success. Making a list of the first things to do in a new leadership role can help you establish trust and respect with colleagues who now report to you. What should be on that list?

Who Are You, and Why Are You Here?

New leaders owe their team an explanation of their experience, qualifications, and their motivation for assuming their new position. It’s important for new leaders to share their stories in a way that establishes their competence, expertise, and history of success.

It’s also important to find a way to reassure the team that you’re there to support, not interfere, with their work. Show your team that you respect their knowledge and experience and that you expect to listen to and learn from them.

Convey why you took the job. A leader who’s clearly in it for their personal advancement has already lost their team’s trust and respect. Tell your story in a way that shows you truly care about the organization’s mission and the people who work to advance it every day.

It also helps to humanize yourself. Don’t overshare personal details, but letting your team know a bit about what your life is like outside of work will give them a more rounded picture of who you are and how your outside life may influence your style as a leader.

Get To Know Your Team

Sharing “Who are you and why are you here?” information is a two-way street. Have individual conversations with each person who now reports to you in the first few days.

Ask each team member about their history with the organization, what they like and don’t like about their job, and what they do in their spare time. Don’t ask personal questions about relationships or children: when you gain a staff member’s trust, they’ll share those things organically.

How Can You Help?

Your team isn’t new to each other, but you are new to them. Even if you won a promotion that others on your team wanted, your job now is to show your team what you can do to support them. Show that you’re interested in their perspective and ideas. In those individual conversations, ask each team member what you can do to help—what’s their most immediate concern?

Find an opportunity for a small win that the team can accomplish together, whether it’s reorganizing supplies to make them more accessible, reducing waste, or resolving a backlog of customer or patient communication.

Taking on a new leadership role involves transitioning from accomplishing tasks to supporting those that accomplish them. It involves establishing two-way trust and cultivating an organizational culture where everyone on your team feels valued. It’s a process, so don’t expect perfection. Own your mistakes and learn from them, and you’ll be on your way to a successful transition into leadership.