5 Tips for Success in Your New Leadership Role

A new leader looking confident.

Starting a new leadership role can feel like exploring a new country. You’ve done some research and learned a bit about what to expect, but once you’re there, things turn out to be very different.

Visiting a new country is exciting, but also a bit overwhelming. People are talking fast, the streets are confusing, and you stick out like a sore thumb.

In moments like these, it’s tempting to pretend like you know exactly what you’re doing. But it’s usually better to admit you don’t know what you’re doing and ask for help.

Similarly, when you start a new leadership role with a team you don’t know and a company culture you’re still figuring out. It’s important to take the time to observe, get to know the “locals”, and understand how things work.

This article will give you five simple tips to help you seamlessly adjust to your new role. From communicating openly with your team to understanding their perspectives, each tip will help you navigate this exciting and impressionable journey of leadership.

Two Organizing Principles to Consider

Before the five steps are laid out, it’s important to note that there are two overarching principles to what you’re trying to accomplish – building relationships and creating certainty.

Building Relationships in Your New Leadership Role

The first crucial theme in navigating new leadership roles is building relationships. Just like when you’re in a new country, forming connections with the locals can make all the difference. In the context of leadership, this means taking the time to get to know your team members, understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates them. Building trust and rapport lays the foundation for effective collaboration.

You have a lot to prove when you start a new role. But if you start your relationship with your new team with ideas on how things can be done differently and better, they’ll be less inclined to get on board with your ideas. You need support. Enlisting your team’s help, knowledge, and expertise from the start, will benefit you in the long run.

Creating Certainty in Your New Leadership Role

The second overarching theme is creating certainty amid uncertainty. Starting a new role can be nerve-wracking for both you and your team. They don’t know what type of leader you’ll be, if they can trust you, or if you’ll take the time to get to know them.

In other words, they are uncertain of what to expect from you.

Our brains crave certainty and even the smallest amount of uncertainty can cause an error response in the brain. This causes the brain to use dramatically more resources.

As a leader, it’s essential to be upfront about how you operate. Communicate your values and expectations, being transparent about any changes or challenges ahead. By fostering an environment of clarity and predictability, your team will use fewer mental resources trying to figure out your next move. It can also get them focused and optimistic about the road ahead.

Each of the five tips below will fall into one of these categories, either helping you build relationships or creating certainty.

Tip #1: Adopt a Beginner’s Mindset

Transitioning into a new leadership role demands a shift in perspective. You may have been hired for your expertise. But your primary focus should be on becoming an expert leader, not an expert contributor. This requires embracing a beginner’s mindset – a willingness to approach each situation with curiosity, humility, and a readiness to learn.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

Just as a traveler navigates a new country with open eyes and an eagerness to explore, so too must you approach your leadership journey. Embrace the discomfort of unfamiliarity, recognizing that growth often lies outside of our comfort zones.

Even if you think you know what needs to be done, you need time to sit back and observe – how people collaborate, the politics, and the culture. If you start suggesting improvements or offering your uninformed opinion, you can quickly alienate your team members.

Adopting a beginner’s mindset cultivates a sense of openness and receptivity to new ideas and perspectives, fostering a culture of innovation within your team. Your job is to bring out the best in them, not have the answers to everything. Acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers, invites collaboration and creativity.

By adopting a beginner’s mindset, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities, innovation, and growth. This willingness to embrace the unknown lays the foundation for transformative leadership and paves the way for success in your new role.

Tip #2: Ask Questions (and Listen to the Responses)

Effective leadership hinges on understanding and connecting with your team members on both a personal and professional level. Asking questions and actively listening to their responses builds trust, fosters collaboration, and unlocks the full potential of your team.

In your new leadership role, take the time to engage with each team member individually. Ask about their experiences, goals, and concerns, both inside and outside of the workplace. By demonstrating a genuine interest in their well-being and aspirations, you lay the groundwork for meaningful relationships.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

You don’t know what happened before you started your role. Perhaps they liked their previous manager. Maybe one of your team members wanted your job and didn’t get it. They could have wanted another candidate for your job. You don’t know the full story.

Not everyone will readily share their thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice, to gather insights into what’s not said. It will take time to create a safe and inclusive environment where team members feel heard and valued but it’s well worth the effort.

Remember, people come first. While strategic goals and objectives are important, they cannot be achieved without a cohesive and motivated team. By prioritizing the relationship with your team members, you set the stage for success not only in your new leadership role but for the organization as a whole.

Tip #3: Set Expectations for Success

Clarity breeds confidence. As a new leader, setting clear expectations is fundamental to fostering a culture of accountability and achievement within your team. Communicate your leadership style, values, and expectations openly and transparently. This provides your team with a roadmap for success.

Begin by articulating how you envision working together. Share insights into your leadership approach, highlighting your strengths, preferences, and areas where you may need support or collaboration.

Be explicit about what you expect from each team member, both in terms of performance and behavior. Define key deliverables, deadlines, and metrics for success. This ensures everyone understands their role and responsibilities within the team.

Provide structure but remain flexible as you gather new information.

While it’s essential to provide guidelines and structure, remain flexible and open to feedback. Recognize that expectations may need to evolve over time as circumstances change and new insights emerge. Encourage open dialogue and collaboration, inviting team members to share their perspectives and ideas for improvement.

Remember, effective leadership is a two-way street. By setting clear expectations and fostering open communication, you empower your team to come to you with ideas, suggestions, and feedback.

Tip #4: Create a 30-60-90 Day Plan

Transitioning into a new leadership role requires a strategic approach to ensure a smooth and successful integration. One effective strategy is to create a 30-60-90 day plan, outlining your objectives and priorities for each stage of your tenure. Remember, you’re not going in with the solutions until you have a good understanding of your team members, the expectations on you, and the organizational culture.

30 Days: Getting Acquainted

The first 30-day period is ideal for active listening, observation, and feedback gathering.

In the first 30 days, focus on getting to know your team, understanding the company culture, and familiarizing yourself with key stakeholders and processes. Schedule one-on-one meetings with team members to gain insights into their roles, goals, and challenges. Use this time to listen, observe, and gather feedback on areas for improvement.

You can even pull your team together to share your initial observations to see what you got right and any information you’re missing.

Also, don’t forget to connect with your manager. Engage with them to gain clarity on their expectations and ensure alignment with organizational goals. Ask them to connect you with people within the organization who you’ll need on your side.

60 Days: Building Momentum

By the 60-day mark, aim to build momentum and begin implementing your vision for the team. Based on what you gathered during the first month, identify areas for improvement and develop action plans to address them. Communicate your plans transparently with your team, soliciting their input and buy-in to ensure alignment and commitment. Check in with your boss to ensure you’re on track with their expectations.

90 Days: Driving Results

As you approach the 90-day milestone, focus on driving tangible results and delivering on your commitments. Review progress against your objectives, celebrate achievements, and course-correct where necessary. Share your insights and findings with your team, fostering a culture of transparency and trust.

Throughout each stage of your plan, prioritize communication and transparency. Keep your team informed about your progress, challenges, and plans for the future. By sharing your boss’s expectations, where appropriate, you demonstrate a commitment to collaboration and alignment. This fosters a culture of transparency and trust within your team.

Tip #5: Find an Early Win

As you settle into your new leadership role, identifying and achieving an early win can set the tone for your tenure. It can also establish credibility and confidence within your team and organization.

Look for areas where team priorities intersect with your boss’s expectations. Is there a project or initiative that aligns with both? Can you identify a solution to a pressing problem that benefits the team and advances organizational objectives? Finding these opportunities requires strategic thinking and an understanding of the organizational landscape.

Resist the urge to spread yourself too thin or over-promise. Instead, focus your efforts on one key initiative where you can make a meaningful impact. By prioritizing effectively, you increase the likelihood of success and avoid diluting your efforts.

Taking Action

Once you’ve identified your early win opportunity, take decisive action to deliver results. Leverage your skills, expertise, and resources to drive the initiative forward. Make sure to keep stakeholders informed and engaged along the way. Be proactive in addressing any challenges or obstacles that arise.

When you achieve your early win, take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of your team. Recognize the collective effort that went into achieving the milestone, and use it as an opportunity to build morale and momentum for future endeavors.

By finding an early win that aligns with both team priorities and organizational objectives, you not only build credibility and confidence but also lay the foundation for future success in your leadership role.


In conclusion, navigating a new leadership role requires a blend of adaptability, empathy, and strategic planning. By embracing a beginner’s mindset, prioritizing relationships, and setting clear expectations, leaders can establish trust, foster collaboration, and drive success within their teams.

Additionally, creating a structured 30-60-90 day plan and identifying early wins can set a positive trajectory for leadership effectiveness and organizational impact. With these strategies in mind, you can confidently embark on your leadership journey, navigating unfamiliar terrain with clarity, purpose, and resilience.


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