Leading a Team for the First Time


Leading a team for the first time is exhilarating and stressful. If you aren’t nervous, you’re oblivious.


Real confidence is rooted in your ability to try, learn, persist, work hard, and deliver results. That’s what got you here. Believe it.

Fairy-tale confidence is saying its so, when it isn’t so, in order to make it so. “I’m confident, I can do this,” for example. You don’t need to pump yourself up. Others believe in you; believe in yourself.


The challenge of leading a team for the fist time is giving assignments, not taking them.

Taking on challenges got you here;
giving them takes you there. 

Helpful honesty:

I always asked new instructors if they planned to tell their first class it was their first time. It was my way of discussing helpful honesty.

Indulgent honesty focuses on what’s best for you. Helpful honesty focuses on what’s best for them.

Leaders ultimately focus on what’s best for others.

Say you’re nervous but explain your preparation and enthusiasm, as well. You make me nervous if all you say is you’re nervous.

Helpful honesty always ends with optimism.

Bonus tip: Laugh at mistakes and move forward. “Boy I really screwed up,” is better than pretending you didn’t. Everyone knows anyway.


First time performers often
judge themselves too harshly.

Offset tendencies toward harshness or leniency with feedback from others. Invite insightful teammates and experienced leaders to speak into your performance.


The path upward is working with and through others. Doing it yourself hobbles and eventually crushes. Working in isolation misses the point. Team leaders take jobs from the boss and give them to others. Master this and you’ll go far.

What are the essential skills for first time team leaders?

What did you learn the first time you led a team?