You’ve just been promoted to senior-level management. Though you’ve already demonstrated your success in leading, you want to make sure you’re fully unlocking the potential of your new team.
Activating your team in your first few weeks in the role is key. Your team members will form perceptions of you quickly, and if you don’t mobilize the group early, you may never unlock the potential they may otherwise have had.
How can you fully activate the team you’ve been newly-appointed to manage? Our six steps are a smart place to start.
If you’re a newly-appointed senior-level manager, you may feel that you have to act like managers you’ve had in the past. However, it’s important to act authentically and lead in a way that’s true to you.
Korn Ferry suggests an authentic leader has the following characteristics:
“A leader also needs to be transparent, ethical and able to develop the abilities of a staff… Then, they can create shared visions to inspire their teams.”
To fully engage your team, you need to be yourself, rather than trying to replicate characteristics of other leaders you admire.
Demonstrate Your Commitment to Your Team’s Well-Being
As a new leader, it’s important to let your team members know you care about their whole selves, not only who they are as employees. That means that you need to connect with them on a personal level. What do they do outside of work? Do they have families?
Your understanding of your team members as individuals encourages their vitality. To be successful, each team member needs to have emotional, physical, and mental health at home and at work. If your team doesn’t feel like their new leader understands them – and can offer them support – then they may feel less motivated in their new work environment.
Identify the Value in Everyone
New leaders may rely too heavily on your highest-performing team members. Top performers can get burnt out if they’re asked to do too much. Besides, these individuals can’t do everything.
Instead, connect with your team to identify everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. What energizes them? What wears them out? Creating a balance that works for everyone is a cornerstone to your team’s success.
Create a Team Who Don’t Think, Look, and Act Like You
Leaders may praise those who think and act like them too highly. As Forbes suggests, however, “Innovation is halted in an echo chamber.”
So, be mindful in creating a team that has a diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and personalities. When you’re appointed to senior leadership role on a team, make sure that you listen to everyone – and really listen; don’t just let everyone talk. Also, make sure you’re not just engaging your louder team members, either. Quieter members of your team are just as valuable.
Later, when you’re building a team, find members who don’t simply echo your philosophy. Instead, create a team that challenges you to think outside of the box.
Understand Your Team’s Culture and Perceptions
When you’re appointed to a leadership role, you’re coming into a team that already has its own history, connections, wins and losses, behavioral standards, and preferences. Even if you were a member of that team, you nevertheless have to navigate the new power dynamic between yourself and your former peers.
That’s why it’s so important to spend time understanding your team’s culture before changing things or setting new expectations. The Center for Creative Leadership sets out these objectives for newly-appointed leaders:
- Understand “the thoughts, behaviors, and needs of coworkers and stakeholders.”
- Determine “what is appropriate behavior for each situation and [act] on it.”
- Interact with each team member “to gain new information and build support for your team’s — and stakeholders’ — goals.”
Share Your Expectations for the Team
Once you’ve connected with your team and understand their culture, you can plan for how they’ll function and work together. The key here, though, is that you need to communicate these expectations with your team. What is each person’s role, and why? Why have you identified a particular function for each individual?
Harvard Business Review explains that the most important role new leaders can do is keep their doors open. At the beginning of your leadership tenure, you’ll want to have more structure and check-ins than you may have throughout your career. This can mean a balance of full-team meetings, one-on-one meetings, emails – and keeping your office door open.
Activating your team’s full potential involves exploring your team’s culture, connecting with each member, and sharing the goals you have for your work together. At the same time, you want to convey a leadership style that’s authentic to who you are. If you’re concerned about how to effectively mobilize your team while staying true to yourself, connect with one of Ivy Exec’s Executive Coaches. These professionals can help you navigate your first senior-level management position.
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