Updated post with new information.
Original Published Date January 18, 2018
Congratulations on your new role! You have signed the papers. Told your parents or loved one about your new position and you’ve even bought a new outfit to celebrate this wonderful change in your career.
You are filled with joy and you can’t wipe that smile off your face because this is what you’ve been working so hard for in the past year or even for the past years. The long hours, sweat, blood and tears have finally paid off.
Finally you are now a New Leader!
Now, Monday comes and here you are already expected to be the “Best” new leader in the company. Only problem is, you have no idea how. Your boss, although supportive, is looking to see how you’ll step up and figure out your own path.
You don’t want to be clingy but you also don’t want your new colleagues to think you can’t figure it out. You want to ask for their help but don’t want to seem like you are too needy.
“Learning how to become a leader is definitely complex.
Much more if you’re a new leader starting to learn the ropes”
There are a lot of things to consider as you start being a new leader and it can really get confusing at times. Much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. Finding the style for you and learning to become one can take years to master.
So here’s a little helping hand to kick-start your wonderful journey in being a new leader learning about leadership and management
There are different types of leaders and you will probably encounter more than one type in your lifetime.
Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and presidents of the local clubs. Informal leaders or those we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of the elders of a tribe, or our grandparents; or by virtue of their expertise and contribution on a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the Arts.
Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles.
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When the leader adds concern for people to an authoritative position, a ‘benevolent dictatorship’ is formed. The leader now uses rewards to encourage appropriate performance and listens more to concerns lower down the organization, although what they hear is often rose-tinted, being limited to what their subordinates think that the boss wants to hear. Although there may be some delegation of decisions, almost all major decisions are still made centrally.
The upward flow of information here is still cautious and rose-tinted to some degree, although the leader is making genuine efforts to listen carefully to ideas. Nevertheless, major decisions are still largely centrally made.
At this level, the leader makes maximum use of participative methods, engaging people lower down the organization in decision-making. People across the organization are psychologically closer together and work well together at all levels.
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The Visionary Leader moves people towards a shared vision, telling them where to go but not how to get there – thus motivating them to struggle forwards. They openly share information, hence giving knowledge power to others.
The coaching leader connects wants to organizational goals, holding long conversations that reach beyond the workplace, helping people find strengths and weaknesses and tying these to career aspirations and actions. They are good at delegating challenging assignments, demonstrating faith that demands justification and which leads to high levels of loyalty.
The Affiliative Leader creates people connections and thus harmony within the organization. It is a very collaborative style which focuses on emotional needs over work needs.
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The Democratic Leader acts to value inputs and commitment via participation, listening to both the bad and the good news.
The Pace Setting Leader builds challenge and exciting goals for people, expecting excellence and often exemplifying it themselves. They identify poor performers and demand more of them. If necessary, they will roll up their sleeves and rescue the situation themselves.
The Commanding Leader soothes fears and gives clear directions by his or her powerful stance, commanding and expecting full compliance (agreement is not needed). They need emotional self-control for success and can seem cold and distant.
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Although certain people seem to be born with innate leadership qualities, without the right environment and exposure, they may fail to develop their full potential.
So like learning how to ride a bicycle, you can also learn how to become a leader and hone your leadership abilities – from a new leader to a champ leader! Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences.
Daily interactions with people provide the opportunity to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership attitudes, gain leadership insights, and thus furthering the cycle of learning.
“You do not become a leader in one day and just stop.”
Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your knowledge, skills, and attitude to a test.
The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own life.
As an adage goes “action speaks louder than words.” Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and even the way you talk with the office janitors.
Repeated actions become habits.
Habits in turn form a person’s character. Steven Covey’s book entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides good insights on how you can achieve personal leadership.
Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person, but rather a shared responsibility among members of an emerging team.
A leader belongs to a group. Each member has responsibilities to fulfill.
Formal leadership positions are merely added responsibilities aside from their responsibilities as members of the team. Effective leadership requires members to do their share of work. Starting as a mere group of individuals, members and leaders work towards the formation of an effective team.
In this light, social interaction plays a major role in leadership. To learn how to work together requires a great deal of trust between and among leaders and members of an emerging team. Trust is built upon actions and not merely on words.
When mutual respect exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.
How come dictatorship works for other countries but not in the US or Canada? Aside from culture, beliefs, value system, and form of government, the current situation of a nation also affects the leadership styles used by its formal leaders.
“There is no rule that only one style can be used.”
Most of the time, leaders employ a combination of leadership styles depending on the situation. In emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death.
Thus, a nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in times of peace and order—different sectors and other branches of government can freely interact and participate in governance.
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Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staff are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is most appropriate.
But if the staff have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from organizational leaders is required.
Now that you have an idea of what leadership is all about, keep in mind that there are always ideas that we think we already know; concepts we take for granted, but are actually the most useful insights on leadership.
Leadership is all about being yourself and demonstrating personal authenticity rather than learning some formula from a text book.
Aspiring leaders therefore need to be true to themselves; not slavishly following other’s ideas.
Role models can be powerful and it doesn’t hurt to model excellence when found; executive coaching is based on this premise.
Thoughts to ponder…
Obviously this doesn’t mean technical weaknesses or functional failings; this would fatally flaw their performance.
Instead, what is meant is that leaders should reveal their personality quirks – maybe they are bad tempered in the morning, are somewhat shy with new people or a little disorganized. Such admissions show they are human and this resonates with others confirming that the leader is a person – not merely a role-holder.
Followers can also feel better if they’ve got something to complain about. Thus by sharing at least some of their weaknesses, new leaders can prevent others from inventing damaging problems.
Real leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and may even make them work for them.
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They develop a ‘feel’ for an environment, and interpret soft data without having to be told. They know when team morale is patchy or when complacency needs shaking up.
They get to know their people through formal and, often better, informal contact such as when travelling together or even going out for lunch as a team can really help in learning about what’s important to their team. This allows them to truly understand what is important in their team’s lives – family, ambition, security etc.
They analyze the compound balance between team members, the tension between the tasks and processes, and how the team builds its competencies.
Finally, they are concerned with defining the cultural characteristics of their organizations and keep their finger on the pulse of the organisation’s climate.
It sounds tongue-in-cheek to say that leaders care for their people. Ever noticed the cynicism in the workforce upon seeing a manager return from a people-skills training course with new concern for others.
Effective new leaders don’t need a training program to convince their employees that they really care. They clearly empathize with their people and care intensely about their work.
Genuine concern is difficult because it always involves some personal risk – showing some part of yourself and your most strongly held values can seem quite scary. It may also take some detachment – the ability to stand back, see the whole picture and sometimes take tough decisions.
“Leadership was never a popularity contest.“
Effective new leaders use their differences and move on to distinguish themselves through personal qualities such as sincerity, loyalty, creativity, or sheer expertise.
Using these differences is a critical leadership skill. But, as always, there is a danger – too much distance makes it impossible to sense situations properly or to communicate effectively.
As a new leader, always strive to be the good one. People respond to good leadership! Period.
It is in all aspects of our lives, not just business. A mother is a leader in her home; a son may be leader of a team sport or a daughter the leader of the debate team. A group relies on the person in charge to actually lead them to success.
A true leader is highly ethical, honest and respected. In our society we have leaders and followers. Are we born to one or the other? No!
Can you hone your leadership skills? Absolutely!
The leaders that I admire seem to have all of these in place:
They think BIG! They don’t put a ceiling in place. Instead, no limit is set as to how big or how much better something can be.
The goals are firmly set in place and the eye does not come off of it.
They make known to all involved their goals. The goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Relevant and Time-bound.
They can get compliance to orders.
When goals are met they set new goals or raise the bar.
People will follow your lead willingly if you are honest, ethical, if you are consistent and treat them with respect.
Rewarding someone when a job is well done is always appreciated. A good leader will also off load someone who consistently hinders the group who is just not a team player.
You can improve your own self- respect and become an inspiration to others. How great is that!
Now you ask yourself, how can I be the best new leader in my company? How can my leadership make a difference
“Leadership is a highly unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of character, knowledge and experience.“
So what can you do if you step up and unleash your leadership potential? Change the world.
An Exceptional New Leader is one that recognizes the value of harnessing the skills and abilities of team members and leads them toward greater efficiency and effectiveness.
And so a leader is not a title and leadership is not something you are born into.
“Leadership is something you develop.“
As a new leader, don’t be afraid to try and fail and then try again. It is part of learning and developing to becoming a champion leader!
This is what Dr. Ken Blanchard, in his book “The Heart of A Leader” had to say about good new leaders; “If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek.”
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About Daisy Casio
Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Leader with over 16 years of work experience in various leadership roles. She has run diverse teams in multiple locations and has built teams from the ground up. She is the Founder of ChampLeaders Blog dedicated to transforming leaders to Champions. She writes about leadership, management, productivity, career tips, team engagement and many more.
Lewin, K., Lippit, R. and White, R.K. (1939). “Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates”. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-301.
Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value, New York: McGraw-Hill
Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership, HBS Press, 2004
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