5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself As a New Manager

When landing a new leadership role whether it is a promotion into management or starting at a new company, many of us ask: Where do I start?

Becoming a new manager can be both exciting and overwhelming.

You now need to flex an entirely new managerial skill set. But with new responsibilities also comes the opportunity for you to make a bigger impact on your organization and strategically develop your team.

Statistics are often against new managers. Only 39 percent of new managers said they received training in a recent survey.

Due to that lack of coaching, it’s inevitable you’ll make a mistake (or many) as you transition into your new role.However, there are common mistakes you can avoid—if you prepare.

Starting a new management role doesn't have to be an isolating journey, and it shouldn't be.

Are you starting with a new team as a manager or are you a first-time manager?

Here are five questions you should be answering within the first days.

Question 1. What do I believe makes excellent leadership and a great team?

What you believe makes an excellent leader might different from other’s managers’ opinions.

To help you come to your own conclusion, here are three steps: share what you believe, listen to what your team have to say, and be vulnerable.

Team members want to know the shared beliefs, values and philosophies you hold.

To achieve a high-performing team, members need to trust their manager.

As you step into this new role, remember you a person, just like the rest of your team, meaning you can connect on a multitude of things: hobbies, movie taste, restaurant obsessions, anything!

To align yourself and show your true self to the rest of the team, you need to be comfortable to share your beliefs, values and your work philosophies.

This will be a key foundation for your success.

To do that, you have to know how to find out what you believe makes excellent leadership.

Right now you might have self-doubts on your skills and capabilities as a new manager. Heck, maybe you think there's a big of imposter syndrome crawling.

But just know, you can always find the leader within you. Watch this video before continuing reading. 👇

You also need to give them a chance to share what they believe around here.

For leaders the art of listening has two key components.

1. One involves listening without distraction or judgment, purely for comprehension.

2. The other involves creating systems and processes that not only make listening active but also elevate it on all fronts to a state of hypervigilance.  

“It’s not just about listening to the person across the table from you, it’s being alert to the whole ecosystem in which you operate.” — Kevin Sharer

Listening is a multidimensional practice.

It requires commitment and constant attention, and any leader cannot survive or thrive at work until learning that fundamental lesson.

But even when you do listen, you need to remember that you can’t take the signals you pick up on—good or bad—at face value.

Instead you must listen so attentively and systematically that you gradually develop a richly nuanced sense of the nature of the organization, its complex dynamics, and what it feels like to work there.

Types of listening
Internal Listening is... Focused Listening is... 360 Listening is...
- Focused on your own thoughts, worries, and priorities.

- You pretend to focus on the other person but truly are not.
- Being able to focus on the other person.

- Still not fully connected to them.

- Not picking up on small nuances in the conversation.
- Listening to what is being said AND how they’re saying it.

- Also taking note of what they’re not saying.

- Noting when they get excited about things, when they pause and talk around others, etc.

Be personable, share personal stories and facts, and let them get to know who you are.

The concept of vulnerable leadership is important, specifically as a manager, to create psychological safety among team members.

Every time I discusse psychological safety and creating a safe environment, some people start to question and say, "Well, Fahd, are you just telling me to be nice? Are you just telling me that I have to be positive all the time and be kind to everyone, even when my team is messing up and things aren't going well, and some people are just not good teammates?"

No! that's not actually what I'm telling you.

See, when we have a basis of psychological safety and belonging and vulnerability, it actually allows us to have the difficult conversations, to give negative feedback, to call bullshit out for what it is, and to call people out who are harming the team.

But without a base safety, when we give criticism and negative feedback and try to have difficult conversations, that environment seems so toxic and so negative and so harsh that people shut down. That they feel attacked. That there isn't room for improvement.

In healthy family relationships, there's a sense of authenticity, trust and vulnerability and connection that you know deep down they're there for you.

“Vulnerability here doesn't mean being weak or submissive.”

To the contrary, it actually takes courage, emotional labor, emotional intelligence, to be yourself, which means replacing the whole being professional, distant, and cool with uncertainty and risk emotional exposure.

Brené Brown, an expert on social connection, conducted thousands of interviews to discover what lies at the root of social connection: Vulnerability and authenticity.

Which is often dramatically missing from workplaces.

Examples of vulnerability:

  1. Calling an employee/colleague whose child is not well.
  2. Reaching out to someone who has had a loss in the family.
  3. Asking someone for help.
  4. Taking responsibility for something that went wrong.
  5. Sitting by the bedside of a colleague or employee with a terminal illness.

Maybe being vulnerable is not your strength yet, but as a manager, you need to know what they are. Which leads to our second question 👇

Question 2. What are my strengths?

Team members want to know what you are bringing to the table.

Why should they trust your leadership?

Leadership is all about understanding people. Including yourself.

DISC is a famous personality assessment that helps create a categorized understanding of individuals' typical patterns of behaviours and emotions.

It will help you recognize each specified personality style's characteristics, including your own, and help you and your teammates change your communication to meet other individuals' needs on your team.

To get a first-hand look at your strengths based on your personality traits, check out our FREE DISC Assessment here.

Your goal as an organization, your goal as a leader is to create more leaders.

The problem is that most leaders are stuck on leadership requiring positional authority. Members of your organization think that they must be a manager or a director in order to lead.

The truth is that leadership is ultimately about the development of other people.

Therefore we must create a culture of development to develop more leaders in our organization.

For that, you should give them a chance to share their strengths.

Here are various resources to help you ignite your team’s leadership qualities and use their strengths to the team’s advantage.

👉 Actionable Ways to Invest in the Development of Your Team Without Offering Them a Management Position

👉 Three Ways to Empower Employees to do Their Best Work

👉 Leaders are Made, Not Born: How to Select a Leadership Training Program for Your Startup

👉 4 Employee Personality Types: Understanding and Managing Different Personalities in the Workplace

Question 3. What is my role?

Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean your role and responsibilities are evident to the rest of the team.

What will you be doing? How will that affect our team?

Hypothetical scenario: You’ve been named head of a task force charged with determining how to respond to an emerging technological shift in your company’s competitive landscape. At the end of roughly six months, you will have to answer for the joint efforts of 15 people from across the organization whose work may determine the future success of your firm.

Task force members gather from across the globe for three days of intensive meetings. The group spends virtually all day every day, including meals, talking and arguing, with many small-group discussions lasting late into the evenings.

On the final day, the group coalesces around a clear statement of purpose — not just the what of your task but the why and who benefits in responding to the challenge. That afternoon, you hash out specific goals and plans that will fulfill your purpose.

Purpose, goals, plans.

You end the meeting feeling satisfied that you’ve laid the foundation for productive work, which will be done over the coming months both online and in additional get-togethers.

But you’re not done…

The foundation is incomplete if you don’t assing roles — without roles, there’s no team.

You've gotta be able to get everyone to know exactly what they're supposed to do, what their work contributions look like, what the team goals, what metrics what's their scoreboard. But also what does that mean for you.

John Maxwell has a beautiful principle called the law of the lid.

He says organizations and teams only grow to the capacity of their leaders.

As a leader, you provide the lid, your team cannot outgrow your capacity.

So, the upper limit of what's possible will only increase with additional contributors and collaborator collaborators that you empower to work with you.

So, while it seems difficult, elevating your impact requires this unavoidable paradox in leadership. You need to be more essential, but less involved.

That is why it makes my delegation becomes so difficult when you justify your hold on work, you're confusing being central with being involved, right? And so the two are not the same.

You don't need to be involved to be essential.

Here is a simple graphic to help you know when to delegate.

Giving the team a chance to describe their role will be essential.

Every member needs to know their role or assignment on the team, what they’re responsible for doing.

In particular, they need to know how their work will contribute to the overall work of the team.

Of course, roles need to remain flexible. You don’t want people rigidly adhering to “my job” or exclaiming “not my job!” when others need help.

Some work will be shared by all, but not everyone can do everything, and so members need roles because they need to know what they can expect from each other.

Without this kind of clarity, no one will be able to feel they’re a valuable and valued member of the team.

Now that you know what your role is as and those of your team members, the next step is to know who are your partners.

Question 4. Who are my partners?

This is a question you ask the team.

You’re new here so you need to understand how things were done before you got there.

Who are the partners this team works with and relies on? Who do we work with regularly in other teams and other companies?

You don’t want to cut important ties or burn bridges even before you began to show your potential as a new manager.

Ask your team to provide pros and cons about each partner so you can assess what has been done in the past, what can be improved, and what needs to be eliminated.

In this case, your team knows better than you. So combine your experiences with their existing knowledge.

Plus, they will appreciate you are listening and recognizing their organizational knowledge.

Question 5. What does our future look like?

Coming in guns blazing about changes without listening will scare off your team.

However, a status-quo manager won’t inspire a high-performing team.

Your team wants to know what your vision is and how it will change the team. It is a chance for you to share ideas and listen to their feedback on what they think the future should be.

Show confidence in your leadership ability, yet humility in their technical fields.

A co-curated onboarding conversation with your new team is perhaps the most crucial part of your first two weeks on the job.

👉 Read my article, How to Create a Shared Company Vision that Will Energize Your Entire Team, to help you form an all-encompassing team vision.

Final thoughts: How to become an unfireable manager?

Becoming a new manager does not have to be a scary journey.

Take a deep breath and answer these five questions to help you guide your first few weeks in the new role.

Bonus information, watch this video to learn 3 secret on how to become an unfireable manager 👇

👉 Check out my leadership training for managers page to learn more.

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