Common leadership questions.

July 25, 2020

From employees who want to be, or already are, First Time Leaders.

One conversation changed my corporate career trajectory.

That fateful conversation

Back in 2015, I was an Aspiring leader. I had nearly a decade of experience in Human Resources, and was working hard to get my first promotion to officially lead others. Already I was informally leading 4 others via a work team, so I thought my time was just round the corner.

Then one day, while working from home, I received a call from my manager, Tim, at about 3pm. Tim had called to give me some feedback. In particularly, he wanted me to ‘show more leadership’.

Almost immediate, three things happened to me.

First. Academic qualifications did not equal to leadership. I have a Double Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Not that they mattered in these circumstances.

Next. Being responsible for my work, delivering results, and having no complaints from my stakeholders did not make me a leader. It made me a good employee.

Finally. If what I was doing was not leadership, then ‘What is leadership?’

What is leadership?

What is leadership?

In the three years that followed, I would read over 30 books on leadership, but the answers continued to elude me. I would later come to understand that many of these books were written with the assumption that the reader already understood leadership.

It would be in July 2018 when I finally got my chance to answer the question. With the support of my business partner (and co-author), Avi Liran, I would start my First Time Leadership research journey to understand leadership from the perspective of someone who did not understand it in the first place.

I would also take a practitioner’s approach and speak with successful leaders to understand the ‘why’ behind their thoughts, words, actions, and behaviours that have helped them be successful. In the end, Avi and I would interview 220 successful leaders from 37 countries in all six continents, with 50.45% of them women.

Writing from a learner’s perspective

Becoming a First Time Leader

Working with Avi meant that over time we started to grow the team from just the two of us, and that was how I became a First Time Leader. Working with a small team who reports into me meant I had to put my research into practice.

I will clarify one thing. There is no replacement for experience when it comes to leadership. That said, having the theoretical understanding from my research meant I was able to connect my experiences and sort them out much quicker. That would be one of the aims for what we do.

In the midst of getting First Time Leadership started and spreading the word about what I did, I received many questions from emplyees about leadership. These questions started to show a trend when I ran webinars. I decided to compiled a list of common leadership questions from employees who want to be, or who already are, first time leaders.

Becoming a First Time Leader… Scary…

Becoming a First Time Leader

Working with Avi meant that over time we started to grow the team from just the two of us, and that was how I became a First Time Leader. Working with a small team who reports into me meant I had to put my research into practice.

I will clarify one thing. There is no replacement for experience when it comes to leadership. That said, having the theoretical understanding from my research meant I was able to connect my experiences and sort them out much quicker. That would be one of the aims for what we do.

In the midst of getting First Time Leadership started and spreading the word about what I did, I received many questions from emplyees about leadership. These questions started to show a trend when I ran webinars. I decided to compiled a list of common leadership questions from employees who want to be, or who already are, first time leaders.

Once you go round the bend, you cannot go back.

Closing the loop

Looking back, I realised that had I had my common leadership questions on being a First Time Leader answered, I would have conducted myself differently as a corporate employee. To me, without the answers, I conducted myself based on what I thought was befitting of a ‘leader’. Little did I know then that I was operating in a state of ‘unconscious incompetence. I did not know what I did not know.

Having such a list would have sparked my interest to find out more. At the very least if I am aware of what I did not know, I would have the opportunity to go find out.

But alas, that is all in the past. What I can do now is share that list of questions with you, so your leadership journey can be more successful than it is now.

Even organisation leaders can benefit from having this list, because they can shift their existing leadership development efforts to address these questions and possibly see an uptick in leadership behaviour among their employees who desire to be first time leaders.