5 Tips for Those in New Leadership Roles

RAFT Team, January 9, 2023

When you’re newly appointed as a leader, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and to know where and how to start. In this article, we’ll cover 4 key tips when you’re in new leadership roles.

1. Know Your Own Strengths

When you’re just starting out in a new leadership role, it’s important to be aware of your strengths. Where do you excel and how can you leverage your natural abilities to lead a group of people? If you’re unsure where your natural abilities lie, consider a personality assessment. We use the VIA Strengths Survey. (16personalities.com or Gallup’s StrengthFinder are also great options.) These assessments will reveal the strengths you have to build a team that’s passionate, insightful, and excellent at what they do.

2. Focus on Relationships

You can learn about ROI, budgeting, and project management in a lot of different places. These things are the nuts and bolts of leadership — the things you do to manage. But more importantly (and less common) are the soft skills that teach people how to be leaders. In it’s simplest form, effective leadership is about relationships. Only 20% of employees feel engaged and as a leader, you want that percentage to be much higher.

If you learn how to build healthy relationships, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an effective leader. 

3. Learn & Grow These Skills

Empathy Skills

Research shows us that empathy is the most important leadership skill. When you have the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, you can innovate, solve problems better, and increase engagement. All of which increase retention, performance, and job satisfaction.

If you find this a difficult skillset to implement, begin with empathy towards yourself. Once you learn how to nurture and be kind to yourself, you’ll be able to treat your team in a similar manner.

Communication Skills

Effective leaders know how to communicate. They do it clearly, concisely, and often. They know how to communicate in a way that inspires, whether through writing or speaking. Effective leaders listen well and keep their non-verbal communication consistent with their heart. People trust a good communicator, even when the words they bring aren’t words they want to hear. The following skills will help you grow your communication skills:

  • Listen actively
  • Be clear and concise
  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication — it says more than your words!
  • Be respectful
  • Create a positive culture in your teams

These skills will also help you build organizational resilience.

Support & Development Skills

The best thing about leadership is that you don’t have to know everything. You just have to know how to train people to have the skills necessary to run your organization. Effective leaders have effective teams and know how to bring out the best in people. Take time to get to know your team and then help them build their strengths in a way that brings about the team’s success. Be the type of leader who wants to grow their people to their highest potential.

4. Invest in Mentorship

Mentorship is a hands-on way to gain education in effective leadership. If you can find someone to help you do this, you’re on the fast track! 

But what if there’s not someone readily available to guide you through the process? Thanks to the internet, you’re not left high and dry. You can find an online mentor.

How I Built This: This podcast by Guy Raz is packed with interviews with entrepreneurs who share how they’ve built their empires. Each episode is transparent and filled with examples of great leadership skills.

Another area that’s replete with learning opportunities is books on leadership. Read the biography of a leader you admire. Find out how they learned to lead. Read books on leadership styles. This information and examples from leaders who succeed will give you invaluable tools to help as you grow your leadership skills. These two lists have a wide variety of great books: 

5. Practice Self Care

You can’t be an effective leader if you’re not taking care of yourself. And if you’re not careful, the demands of new leadership will lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. Self-care if vital. Take breaks during the day. Get proper sleep. Exercise. Do whatever you need to do to stay balanced so you can invest in your new role as a healthy, enthusiastic new leader.

Quality leadership plays a vital role in any organization, but training in this area is often lacking. These statistics from Zippia show us just how much is lacking but also how companies are learning to invest in those in new leadership roles.

  • While 83% of organizations believe it’s important to develop leaders at every level of the company, only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels.
  • 77% of businesses report that leadership is lacking.
  • Only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels.
  • US businesses spend $166 billion on leadership development each year
  • Nearly 95% of learning organizations plan to increase or maintain their current investment in leadership development.
  • 69% of millennials feel a lack of leadership development.

New leadership doesn’t have to be scary. Whether you were recruited for natural ability or by desperate need, you can learn all the things you need to become an effective leader. Dedicate yourself to the process, give yourself grace, and celebrate the wins as you traverse this new path.