Month by month guide for new leaders
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > New to leadership? Here’s a month-by-month guide to help you on the way

New to leadership? Here’s a month-by-month guide to help you on the way

by Freya Lucas

July 31, 2023

Leaders are often promoted to positions of authority based on their capabilities and strengths in more junior positions. Eager to please, and to make their mark, many new leaders find themselves caught between what they believe they were brought in to achieve, and what they themselves WANT to achieve. 


In the piece below, business sustainability consultant Caroline Stokes explores a six-month “gameplan” which she says will support leaders to overcome one of the biggest challenges she sees in her work a failure to win the team’s trust to execute the broader vision, followed by quickly losing the ability to influence direct reports or other leaders. 


Month one: speak to the stakeholders


During the first month, Ms Stokes recommends getting in touch with anyone and everyone who will be affected by your leadership. 


In an early childhood education and care (ECEC) context, this would include parents, educators, anyone else in the company or organisation which you may work with directly. 


During this month, she continues, it’s about getting to know the vision, goals, challenges, barriers and obstacles of the people you will work with during your role. 


Some questions which could be asked in this time include: 


  • What are you hoping to accomplish in the next six months? 
  • How do you think things could be improved in our space? 
  • What accomplishments are you the most proud of from the last 12 months? 
  • How do you think our team can communicate better? 
  • What do you need from me? How can I help you right now?


Month two: consolidate what you found out


After getting responses from a minimum of 15 stakeholders, Ms Stokes says it’s time to bring the findings together, and share them with everyone involved, outlining goals to be reached, opportunities for growth, and the ways in which these goals may be achieved. 


“Remember, your new team and peers may be experiencing as much culture shock as you in the first 100 days, so approach others with care to create close, collaborative and future-oriented work with your leadership team. Cross-functional leaders will be essential to your success,” Ms Stokes adds. 


Month three: acknowledge successes


By month three, she continues, there should be an established pattern of weekly meetings which focus on the challenges which are obstructing the goals, and outlining solutions to move each initiative forward. 


During these meetings sharing success and setbacks in equal measure is important. 


“Celebrate wins as they happen to ensure people start associating change with progress,” she advises. 


“Acknowledge pain points, delays, and challenges as a way to identify solutions to the issue instead of feeling like you may have failed.”


Month four: show your work


In month four, she continues, the opportunity is there to show that you have listened to your team and that you are actively supporting them to achieve their goals this might be through a report, a new strategy, or a significant announcement. 


“By clearly communicating that you will have progress to report on in a timely manner, and that you can keep to this schedule, you demonstrate that you are reliable. Show you are accountable and moving forward, and expect the same from others,” Ms Stokes says. 


Months five and six: loop back and check in 


Months five and six, she continues, are about checking back in with stakeholders, and asking for their feedback about your work as a leader. 


Before this takes place, however, Ms Stokes says it’s important to reflect, and check in with yourself, perhaps with the aid of the following questions: 


  • What do you need to learn at this point? 
  • What relationships aren’t running quite as collaboratively as you need? 
  • What alliances need to be strengthened?


“You may feel accomplished, fatigued, or perhaps even unhappy with your results,” Ms Stokes says. 


“There will be a handful of disappointments, and there will be some wonderful achievements. If you’re a high performer and a learner-leader, you’re probably hungry for even more growth and seeking new ways to create more optimum results. The important thing is that you listen to your team, and those you trust, to make sure the rest of your leadership tenure is primed for success. A leader’s evolution within an ever-growing organisation never stops.”


Caroline Stokes, CEC, PCC is a business sustainability consultant and a leadership development executive coach. She is the author of Elephants Before Unicorns: Emotionally Intelligent Strategies To Save Your Company (Entrepreneur Press, 2019).


To access the original coverage of this story, please see here

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