Stepping into a leadership role for the first time is both challenging and exciting. Going from an individual contributor to leading a team is a positive trajectory for your professional growth, and it’s natural to seek advice on how to navigate the transition.
Although everyone’s journey is unique, there are always common challenges faced when stepping into a leadership role. To help those starting out, we asked individuals from across the industry spectrum to share any advice they received beforehand, and to offer their own now that they’re seasoned leaders themselves.
This week we spoke to 3 leaders with different experiences of growing teams, communities and businesses alike.
Amber Skinner-Jozefson, MBA
Amber is the Chief Experience Officer at e.pop, a digital receipts solution committed to driving a more sustainable way to manage payments. A start-up advisor, charity trustee and continuously recognised Fin-Tech leader, Amber has managed and led teams in the US and internationally for the past 10+ years with a track record of strategic transformation and building out commercially-driven growth teams.
Joe is a marketing leader and Co-Founder of The Marketing Meetup, a global marketing community with over 27,000 members and growing. In his career he has continuously focused on driving the human support and interaction between professionals in the industry, with regular events, podcasts and initiatives to uplift and educate other marketers in the profession.
Paul is SVP of Corporate Marketing at Blue Prism, global leaders and pioneers of RPA technology. In his time across a number of leading Finance and Tech businesses including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and many more, Paul has managed and led teams from 5 to 75 people across a vast variety of business areas.
What Great Leadership Looks like
What does great leadership look like? According to Zippia Research, only 10% of people are natural leaders — another 20% show some qualities of basic managerial talent that can be cultivated into high-quality leadership.
Leaders are expected to have a wide mix of skills, from organization to communication to integrity, and with only 5% of businesses providing formal leadership development at all skill levels, developing and building out these skills is often left to the individual leaders to find their own way.
So - we've asked our leaders to share the best advice they can give to new leaders, from their own experience getting started to what they've learned along the way.
Starting out: What was the best piece of leadership advice you received when you took on a leadership role?
Understanding the goals of the people you lead
“I didn't receive any leadership advice when I took on a leadership role, which says a lot about a general lack of training and preparation that goes into helping new managers transition into an entirely different job.
One thing I've learned over the years and readily share with new leaders is to take the time to understand both your as well as each of your team members' three-year plans. Having this conversation (and it's an ongoing conversation) with your team will save so much time and will help you align what is actually important to everybody.” - Amber Skinner-Jozefson, CXO, e.pop
Understand that it’s not about you
“The role of a leader is to help set the course, and then give the freedom to the team to explore how to get to the destination. You can help correct the course through questioning - but it's not about helping you look good: it's about helping them shine.” - Joe Glover, Founder, The Marketing Meetup
It’s the people who make the job
“Do the right thing by people. In times of crisis, or urgency it's all too easy to forget that it's the people who make the job, and serve the customers. Get the people piece right, the rest will fall in place.” - Paul Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Blue Prism
Read more: Against the Grain - Marketing Done Differently
Leading day to day: What is the best practical advice you’ve received?
Don’t overplay your hand
“Don't overplay your hand or deliver too much too quickly. For most of us, especially new leaders who have much to prove, this is counterintuitive. In a nutshell, control your impulses and keep your ego/ insecurities in check to better manage output, protect your team and stem the flow of incoming demands.” - Amber Skinner-Jozefson
Give your team the opportunity to learn for themselves
“Great questions are a way to help folks get to where they need to be. Rather than saying 'I think you can do better', you could ask someone 'how do you think you could do better?' Allowing people to come to their own conclusions with your guidance is far more effective than simply dictating to someone your will.” - Joe Glover
“Show up. It's all too easy to multi-task and not be present, try to make time for the things that matter (work, family, friends).” - Paul Taylor
Read More: Leaders' Perspective: What Real Sustainability Looks Like
Paying it forward: What advice would you give to someone starting out in a leadership role?
Respect the unique skillset
“Management and leadership are specific and unique skillsets and should be respected as such.
They require attention and practice in order to hone over time, and I strongly advise that all leaders - new and seasoned - continuously dedicate time to this as we have people's careers in our hands, which is something to take very seriously.” - Amber Skinner-Jozefson
“Jump in - we all get imposter syndrome, we all feel we need more time to understand things, but humans are pretty good at survival, and the journey will be fun.” - Paul Taylor
For new leaders looking for an unbiased view on their strategy and external resource, GO! can help with that. From digital transformation to brand strategy, our team of industry experts are here to help you benchmark your state of play. Get in touch to get started…