Skip to content

How to Demonstrate Leadership in a New Role

By |September 27, 2021

When they start new roles, some leaders feel tempted to institute changes right away to make an immediate impact.

Unless it’s an emergency, there is no need for it.

This mindset is born from insecurity. All too often, new leaders enter the mix and are worried about how people view them, causing them to try and make their mark on a new role. They are trying to impress, saying to both superiors and subordinates: Look at me.

How to Demonstrate Leadership in a New Role

When you let this insecurity drive your conduct, you put unnecessary stress on yourself and your direct reports. Nothing good happens.

As you transition into learning how to demonstrate leadership in your new role, here are some tips to keep in mind to make the process as smooth as it can be. 

[INFOGRAPHIC] Do you consider yourself to be an effective leader? Here are  seven leadership characteristics you should live by »

Respect the Existing Culture

Any time you ask people to change what they are doing, you put more work on their plate. This leads to stress. The uncertainty of doing something new breeds fear, further compounding that stress and impeding all ability to produce.

First things first: When you assume a new leadership position, resist the urge to transform the team, department, or organization overnight. Learn the lay of the land first and trust the team to do the jobs they were hired to do.

Avoid Micromanagement

When new leaders are uncomfortable, they want to alleviate the stress and pressure and get comfortable as quickly as possible. They fear they will be exposed as incompetent or a poor fit for the job, leading them down the slippery slope to micromanagement. 

Although leaders are hired to delegate, many new leaders believe that delegation is giving up control. Micromanaging, on the other hand, enables them to maintain control. As such, insecure new leaders tend to wield the control of micromanagement like a sword, scrutinizing every single move—and driving their team’s production and morale into the dirt.

Believe in Yourself

Insecure new leaders often worry that they are not prepared for the job they were hired to do. Unfortunately, this lack of confidence is very evident to the team. Because it’s hard for employees to believe in leaders who don’t believe in themselves, this mindset can have a disastrous impact on the organization.

As you transition into a new role, keep in mind that your direct reports do not expect you to be a perfect leader. Instead, they want a certain level of confidence and preparedness. They also want you to be patient and authentic.

That starts with recognizing you’re not the end-all-be-all—and that you don’t have all the knowledge you need to thrive in the position on day one.

Don’t Be Two-Faced

Some new leaders come in and tell their teams that they are allowed to run their shops the way they have been—but they need to make these five small changes first.

This is as duplicitous a statement as you’ll ever hear—and the perfect example of micromanagement. Although the C-suite tends to overlook micromanagement—it’s what got them to where they are, after all—subordinates immediately recognize it.

Unfortunately, because micromanagement undermines autonomy, this approach will either cause employees to leave or, even worse, stick around but no longer engage.

Be Inclusive

Part of being an impactful leader is your ability to include your team in the decision-making process, even if you don’t end up implementing their ideas. Even if your team suggests taking Avenue B but you’re sticking with your decision to take Avenue A, allowing them to contribute to the discussion is critical. You can articulate your reasoning later, but by giving them a voice, you’re creating an environment in which they are willing to contribute.

If everyone on the team feels they have a say in the direction of the company, you create buy-in among your team. On the flip side, when every decision is made top-down with little to no discussion, you will discourage your team. They’ll stop sharing ideas, stop taking initiatives, and stop investing in the organization. 

Adopt the Right Mindset

Many new leaders are arrogant based on their position in the organization. Most fail to realize there’s a major difference between leadership, confidence, and arrogance.

Arrogance is usually compensation for insecurity. To these leaders, making themselves look good takes precedence over making the team look good. This behavior is readily apparent to the team, causing negative emotions and dynamics.

In many cases, you can’t even blame new leaders for acting this way. They usually don’t have any role models to look to as examples of effective leadership. They are just imitating the leaders they have had over the years.

Unfortunately, this feeds into a cycle of bad leadership.

You can avoid this fate by adopting the right mindset. Understand that it is not all about you, and think about how having a new boss impacts a team. Be transparent and invite your new team into the decision-making process from the outset. 

For example, you can use a Label™ like this: It seems like you guys have a vision for what this team’s next chapter is going to look like moving forward? Listen to what they’re saying, using Labels, Mirrors™, and paraphrasing to show that you’re listening at the deepest level possible.

When it’s your turn to speak, use a no-oriented question to kick things off: Are you against me sharing what I was thinking? They will say no. At this point, use an Accusation Audit™: This probably isn’t going to be what you want to hear. You’re probably going to think I’m trying to impose my will. Then lay it all out, and follow it with a simple Calibrated Question™: What about what I just said causes you concern?

By deferring to your team and showing them you understand exactly where they’re coming from and what they’re thinking, you’ll empower the whole team.

For more information on what you can do to demonstrate next-level leadership, check out our infographic, “7 Characteristics of Effective Leadership.”

Characteristics of Effective Leadership