Succeeding when you’re new

An email arrived from a new Leadership Freak subscriber asking if I had any hints that might help a new supervisor. “New” means they were recently hired to a supervisory role with a large multinational company.

8 Hints for new supervisors

#1. Success is always a combination of technical competence and social relationships. The higher you go the more important people skills become. You may have been hired because of technical skill but social skills are always on the front burner during your first days. Everyone wonders how you’ll fit in.

#2. Personal confidence is about your ability to learn. You don’t need to prove what you know. You did that when they hired you. You need to prove what you can learn.

#3. Your arrival signals stress for others. In general, everyone’s wondering what you’ll change. In specific, everyone’s wondering how their job might change. Low to moderate levels of stress can enhance performance. However, avoid high levels of stress by emphasizing certainties. If you can say things will remain basically the same then say it. However, avoid promising more than you can deliver.

#4. Understand the purpose of processes and procedures before making suggestions.

#5. Say what others need to hear rather than what you need to say. You may feel a need to talk about your own abilities, success, or career track. Don’t do it. Instead, listen for and subtly speak to their issues and fears.

#6. Demonstrate alignment with organizational mission and vision by asking questions that clarify your role. In this case, questions are subtle statements that show your priorities.

#7. When you begin feeling the need to receive honor, give it. Be free with gratitude.

#8. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Some want to manipulate you. Others are staking out new turf. Withhold judgment.


What suggestions can you offer someone recently hired to a management or leadership role.


Leadership Freak,

Dan Rockwell