The Beginnings of Great Leadership

By Justin Smith

Congratulations, you’ve gotten a job offer to manage a new team! Managing people is a great way to build up your leadership skills and gain visibility in your organization. You will have the chance to positively influence a group of colleagues and produce great results for your company. When managing for the first time, everything is open to you along the leadership path. You can become the manager who’s a buddy, or you can be the manager who’s hard-edged. Any experienced manager will tell you that only time and experience will help you determine which leadership style works best for you. Style aside, here are a few ideas you should use as the foundation of your management approach.

Observe the Environment

As a new leader, it is often tempting to enter a situation and try to assert yourself. You might feel the need to establish your authority very early on. Before you jump in with your guns blazing, understand that it is beneficial to take some time and observe your new department. Gain an understanding of the environment before you start forcing changes that could be unnecessary and disruptive. Observe your team as they go about their daily activities. Listen to a few phone calls, take a look at the email or chat queues, and watch how your team uses various tools and systems. This can give you a clear idea of what your customers need from your product and what they want from your group.

Input Before Output

It is just as important to get feedback from your employees. Listen to what they can tell you about how things have been run and the kinds of initiatives that have been successful. These are the people who are closest to your product and have a direct line of communication with your customers. Take some time out to get to know each member of your team. They will have individual strengths and insights that are invaluable to a new leader who isn’t familiar with the inner workings of the department. This will also help you understand how to involve them in your new initiatives and keep them motivated.

No Longer an Army of One

Lots of people are invited into management because they are great individual achievers. Management can be a natural next step for people who are focused and hard working. The interesting thing about becoming a manager is that your success is no longer based solely on your own performance. You are now responsible for using all the strengths you’ve developed and insights you’ve gained to serve your team and make them successful. To a new manager it can seem backwards, but the harder you work to make your team members shine, the more effective you look as a manager.  Approach the new opportunity as a way for you to be of service to your colleagues.

New managers generally go in one of two directions with their managing style: “Be similar to a manager that you really liked working for” or “Be the complete opposite of a manager that you did not like working for.” These steps can help you begin the journey toward your own leadership style, and become a highly effective and respected manager. Observing, gathering feedback and making people your focus will put you a perfect place to begin leading.

Are you a new customer success leader who needs help building your team and processes? The Success League is a consulting firm that works with customer success leaders who want to unlock the retention and revenue potential in their team.

Justin Smith - Justin is an enthusiastic and determined customer advocate, who builds and leads award-winning technical support organizations.  For almost a decade, Justin has worked with customer-centric companies like FedEx and VerticalResponse to create exceptional client care experiences. He holds a BA in English from the University of California at Davis, and resides in Oakland, CA.