Congratulations! You just found out that you’ve been picked to become the new boss. You’re really excited about the opportunity to advance your career and show that you can be a great leader in the workplace.
Even if you have leadership experience and training, getting started with a new team – or in a new position with a familiar team – can be daunting.
How can you inspire leadership and motivation in the workplace when you’re completely new to the company? And what do you do when you’ve been promoted and are suddenly expected to supervise the same people you’ve worked with and befriended over the years?
Here are four essential tips to help you succeed and thrive in your role as the new boss.
Here are Four Tips to Being a Leader When You’re the New Boss
1. Acknowledge the Change
It’s tempting to walk in as the new boss and assure everyone that everything will stay the same. And if you’ve already been working at the company for years, you might feel pressured to tell your co-workers that you’re still the same person. Unfortunately, neither of these things is true, or at least not entirely true. It’s important to acknowledge this early to manage everyone’s expectations.
If you’re walking into the company for the first time, it can be intimidating to suddenly assume the role of a leader, especially if the previous boss was well-liked. Always remember that you were hired because someone thought that you had the best ideas for running the team or company. Rather than trying to keep everything the same, let your employees know that you look forward to building even more on the success of the last boss. While some things may stay the same, others things might change. As the new boss, it’s your job to help prepare the team for successful change.
If you were hired from within the company, it’s certainly possible to maintain personal friendships with co-workers. However, everyone needs to understand that your professional relationship can’t be the same, especially if you’ll now be directly supervising your former peers. As much as you may like and trust your friends, it’s never a good idea for leaders to play favorites.
The best way to acknowledge the situation is to communicate proactively with your co-workers. Let them know that you value their friendship but that you’ll need to be a fair manager in order to build trust and motivation in the workplace. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand.
2. Take Time to Get to Know Your New Team
Whether you’re coming into a new work environment or you were promoted from within the company, you’ll be developing completely new working relationships with your team. Sure, you might know your old boss’s assistant, but there’s a big difference between occasional friendly gossip and managing someone’s professional time and skills.
As you adjust to your new leadership role, it’s important to take the time to start a new professional relationship with everyone. Even if you’ve been working with your new reports for years, you may not know everything about their professional lives. As the new boss, you’ll need to pick up on the team’s professional strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. And most importantly, you’ll need to work together with everyone to help achieve your strategy for the company’s future.
It’s also important to get to know the vital people who work outside the company. Managers and bosses need to negotiate with vendors and suppliers, decide about investing in new software, and make sure that lights literally stay on (along with the internet, heat, and water). Just like co-worker relationships, the best vendor and supplier relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, and open communication.
3. Find a Mentor
Inspiring great leadership and motivation in the workplace takes practice and experience. If you’re new to managing a team, there are plenty of books, courses, and workshops to help you build a strong foundation to become an effective workplace leader. But as you come across specific issues during your day-to-day job as a new boss, we recommend seeking out a mentor for guidance.
Most people only think of mentors as well-known, successful professionals who publish books or give talks around the world. However, a great mentor can be any trustworthy person who can offer advice and experience. In fact, someone in your family could likely help mentor you — perhaps an aunt who’s been managing employees at her small business for years or an older cousin who already knows the business. Other potential mentors could be experienced friends or even former bosses. If you’re part of a professional networking group, there may be a mentorship program that connects new leaders with industry veterans.
Good experience is priceless, so take advantage of your options for finding a good mentor.
4. Stay Motivated
Whether this is your first big promotion or you’ve been managing people for years, it’s a big deal to step into the role of a new boss. There will be some mistakes and misunderstandings along the way, but if you want to avoid burnout, it’s important to practice some self-compassion.
Just like with any new job, there will be hard days that leave you wondering whether you have what it takes to be a good leader. You’re not alone; research shows that imposter syndrome is a common feeling among new leaders and other high achievers.
But think about it this way: you were hired as the new boss for a reason. And while you’re bound to make a few mistakes — nobody’s perfect — you clearly have the knowledge and skills to make it all work. It may not seem like much, but focusing on your strengths in times of doubt can help keep you motivated when things aren’t going your way.
It Takes Courage to Be the New Boss
It’s never easy adjusting to a new work environment, especially when you’re the new boss. In addition to following the tips above, it’s important to recognize that you’re doing something courageous. Not everyone has what it takes to be a great leader, and someone saw that you had the skills and determination to succeed. At Confie, we understand that great leaders help build great teams and culture. To learn more about us, get in touch or give us a call at 714-252-2500.