117: Leading People for the First Time [Podcast]

If you are leading people for the first time you are likely a bit intimidated – and maybe a little excited. Leadership has this mysterious nature to it. Yet, when we step back we realize leadership is really about helping people help you to reach a goal. You are now part of a team and they need you to point the direction. How do you do that? I will share some basic leadership principles, as well as, some specific actions to improve your leadership.

Key Leadership Principles

Leadership is a moving target. If you are leading people for the first time or have been leading for years, the principles are all the same.


Be positive, optimistic, and realistic. Attitude is very contagious.


You are now serving both your leader and those you lead


You must be clear about what you want and willing to listen.


Drop the “I” word excepting when taking blame or responsibility. This is not about you – it is about we.


People follow you because you care about them and help them grow.

Setting clear boundaries and expectations

If you do not tell me what you expect, how do I know when I win? Be clear. Otherwise you will frustrate your team.

Casting and sharing a vision

We all want to be part of something that is going somewhere. Help me see where we are going and what we are working for.

Rinse and Repeat

Learn to repeat yourself often. Repeat your vision, your expectation, and your praise.


15 Minute Fixes for Leaders

These are all actions YOU can take in about 15 minutes that will have a dramatic impact on your leadership – especially when leading people for the first time.

  1. Define customer expectations – Find out from your boss what his/her vision is for your team. Nothing deep – but how do they see a win. I prefer to do this in a quick conversation so I get their top of mind issues.
  2. Repeat it back – Take what your boss told you and put in very succinctly into an email. Just say “This is what I heard you say, just making sure I got it right.” Wait for confirmation or clarification.
  3. Share with the team – Email your team and tell them what the boss thinks. Use your boss’s exact words. Ask them for feedback – how can each of them contribute to the objective of your boss? Wait for their feedback. This might take you spending a little more time chatting with them to process it – but stay at it until you get some feedback from each person.
    Now in this process you have two key things:
    – What matters to your boss in his or her own words.
    – How your team translates those words.It is critical that you understand the words used by each side. You are the translator from the strategic view of your boss to the tactical view of your team.
  4. Now craft a quick vision statement for your team using the words they have provided. Again – use their words! Email it to them. (Yes, this is a 15 minute activity.)
  5. Set normal team meetings (daily or weekly) and keep it SHORT. Send out an email announcing and then put it on your calendar.
  6. Run the 15 minute meetings like this. Each person shares a) What are they working on and b) Where are they stuck. (Standing meetings are often helpful to hold the time down)
  7. Write down what you expect from each person in email – keep it! (15 minutes per person)
  8. Meet with them one-on-one and ask about their goals and how you can help them. (Might take more than 15 minutes per person – but well worth it)
  9. Rinse and repeat quarterly or semi-annually.

While these actions are not everything you will have to do, they will put you way in front of what most leaders do to serve their people.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Building Your Own Business

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