Tips on Leading a New Team

We know that today’s workers don’t stay with the same company for a lifetime. According to the BLS, the younger Baby Boomers held an average of 11 jobs from the age of 18 to 44. It’s probably safe to assume that Gen Xers and Millennials will likely change jobs more frequently than their predecessors.

As leaders, this means many of us will have the opportunity to lead different teams in different organizations over the course of our careers. Leading a new team can be a challenge, but the same can be said for the existing team getting a new leader. So how can both parties deal with it? Here are tips from some of my real-life experiences.

1. Remember you’re starting out at Level 1.

No matter how awesome of a boss you were at your previous job, your new role with your new team puts you back at Level 1. According to John Maxwell, that means you are leading with your position. At this level, people will follow you only because they have to, not because they want to.

2. Invest time with the team.

When I began my new leadership position at my former employer, Giant Impact, a few years ago, I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. I had a new team, and they had a new leader. I kept a journal during this time and want to share what I wrote on June 22, 2009. I was recapping my first few months with a top ten list of my actions. The first five were people-focused. Below are comments directly from my journal.

1. Stepped in quickly to form relationships and support the corporate sales team. The VP of sales left the week before my arrival, so I felt I needed to bring them consistency and a sense of calmness that all is okay.

2. Met with key influencers

3. Watched!!! Watched teammates styles, communication, influence levels, talked to a lot of people around the water cooler… I needed to get to know who were the lead dogs… not the dogs with the titles. I needed to find the ones who had the potential to make things happen and who would respond well with my style of leadership.

4. Gathered input from the middle. They were not short on opinions. Haha

5. Started a leadership lunch and learn. I wanted to set the stage that we will become better leaders ourselves FIRST before we try to sell it.

Just glancing back over my journal entries about my past experiences reminds me how much I’ve learned in the three opportunities I’ve had to be the new leader to an existing team. In fact, I have too much to share to include in one blog post! Check back Thursday when I’ll share three additional important tips for new leaders stepping in to lead a team.

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