Leading A Team

Everything You Need to Know About Leading a Team for the First Time

4 min read
Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland

The moment you first step into a leadership position is very special – and sometimes a little nerve-wracking!

Being a leader means being able to inspire, nourish and manage a team, as well as steering your company’s goals and objectives. That might sound like a tall order and that’s because it can be! 

Research from Gallup suggests that only one in 10 people have the natural talent to manage. However, the willingness to learn and being able to harness your abilities immediately sets you apart. 

There’s no magic formula for being the perfect leader, but there are many things you can do to strengthen your position and be confident that you’re setting off on the right foot. 

Make time to lead

To maximise your potential as a leader, you must put some serious time aside in your schedule. It can be easy to assume that you’ll be able to pick it up along the way but being a good leader means putting in plenty of effort – and to do that, you’ll need time. 

You may already possess many traits, habits and skills that make a great leader, but ongoing personal and professional development will help you stay on top. There are also a lot of new responsibilities that will now fall to you, from creating solid strategies to supporting staff and developing a good company culture, and it’s up to you to balance your time. 

According to LinkedIn, dedicating time to think is critical for successful leadership, so don’t let your diary get so full that you don’t have time to strategise. 

Spend time getting to know your team 

Taking the time to get to know your employees will make you a better team leader.

One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of leading is the ability to guide every member of your team to greater heights. This means being able to recognise the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. We’re all different and tend to respond to different leadership styles

Some people like to be left to figure things out independently, others like frequent guidance and check-ins or a solid structure to follow. By getting to know your team and their preferences, you’ll be well-positioned to lead in a way that nurtures everyone and results in better outcomes for you and the company as a whole. 

Getting to know your team personally and valuing their unique insights is also an excellent way to boost employee engagement and motivation. 

Learn how to excel at communication 

When you’re a leader, your words hold more weight than before. That means that brushing up on your communication skills is more critical than ever. From active listening that ensures your team feels heard and respected to delivering rousing speeches, there are many different levels to communicating well as a leader.

It may be that some methods come more naturally than others, but it’s essential to make sure you have as many options in your tool belt as possible. Practice your written skills, look at how much time you spend speaking when checking in with colleagues, and be sure to ask for feedback. That way, you’ll determine whether you’re successfully communicating your message. 

Effective communication is a massive bonus for any workplace, and it’s up to you to ensure you get the ball rolling. 

Be prepared to lead by example 

Once you become a leader, your team will look to you as an example. 

While this might sound scary, it doesn’t have to be. The first thing you should do is ensure that your personal beliefs align with your team values. When you genuinely believe in the values you’re sharing, it’s far easier to live by them. 

Now is also the time to be aware of the messages you might send without meaning. For example, if you say you want your team to enjoy a healthy work-life balance and they can see you staying at the office way beyond home time, your message will be mixed at best and devalued at worst. 

As author and Digital Business expert, Michael Schrage says in the Harvard Review of Business, you’re always leading by example whether you like it or not – so you may as well make the most of it. 

Give regular recognition 

The best leaders know the power of recognising and rewarding the work around them. A leader doesn’t make a business; a team does. That’s why it’s vital to acknowledge their work and the skills they bring to the table. 

Don’t wait for those big wins or work milestones to recognise your employees. Regular, personal and considerate recognition is the best way to help build trust and self-esteem. At Mo, we know the value of giving employees a lift. That’s why our recognition platform makes it easy to celebrate special moments a boost with automated reminders.

Don’t forget you’re a work in progress

Just remember that you are a work in progress and that being adaptive and aware of workplace trends is also essential. How to lead now may not be how you want to lead in 10 years, and that’s ok. Stay open to change, listen to your colleagues and look forward to expanding your knowledge and skills as you grow into your role. 

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Mo is an employee recognition and engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change. 

Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.

Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today!

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