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So You’ve Just Landed Your First Leadership Role, What Now?

May 15, 2024 By Chloe Barton

Firstly, big congratulations! Stepping into a leadership role for the first time is a huge step in your career, whether you’ve been promoted internally or you are joining a new company, you will be feeling excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow and overcome new challenges. But let’s be honest there’s probably a hint of nerves and feelings of fear mixed in there too. 

In my role at Impact Advising, I spend my days meeting and talking with the very best leaders and change-makers from the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Lately, I’ve been picking their brains and asking them to share what they wished someone had told them.  

You don’t need to know it all – As a leader, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to have all the answers. Instead, a great leader is someone open to learning from the people around them. Empowering your people to share their knowledge and ideas encourages collaboration and innovation. By doing this, you’ll become a better leader and you’ll have better outcomes for your organisation and team. 

Listen first and don’t assume – Come in and learn to listen, don’t assume you know what you don’t: Give yourself time to listen, whilst giving others time to share their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. Not only will you be more informed moving forward to make critical decisions (for instance understanding some of the historical issues that happened before you were there) but you will have started to foster a culture of open communication and inclusivity, creating a more collaborative and productive environment where everyone feels valued and heard. 

Set yourself clear goals – As a first-time leader, it’s important that you know what goals you want to achieve but also to understand how they align with your organisation’s mission or strategic plan. Breaking down these objectives into manageable milestones provides a more structured roadmap and helps navigate the initial challenges of leadership. 

Building a support network: Acknowledge that stepping into a leadership role can and will feel overwhelming at times. Surround yourself with mentors, peers, and allies who have experience as a leader themselves. Tapping into their insights and advice will be gold, and help you navigate these new situations. Additionally, don’t forget to seek out a peer or buddy, who is also new to leadership; sharing experiences and stories will provide mutual support and encouragement. 

Prioritise your own self-care: Being a good leader begins with taking care of yourself. It’s important to build and practice self-care routines that work for you and to ensure YOU hold yourself accountable for sticking to them. It is this that will maintain your well-being and resilience and by prioritising your own health, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come your way and lead with clarity and strength. And by prioritizing your own self-care, you’re also setting an example for your team to follow, showing them the importance of taking care of yourself.     

Congratulations again on reaching this significant milestone in your career! I personally like to think of success as a leader as a journey, not a destination. I hope that by sharing this insight from my network, the start of your journey will be a little smoother with fewer speed bumps to slow you down.