15 investments for yourself as a First Time Leader.

Leading others is a full time job, but as a First Time Leader, you are not just leading your team. You also have your own operational responsibilities, which is another full time job on its own. It is of little wonder that many First Time Leaders (and even experienced leaders) say they do not have time to lead. Here is the thing though. To lead well, you have to prioritise time to invest in your leadership. That is why I wanted to share with you 15 investments for yourself as a First Time Leader. 

1. Relationships with others. 

1. Relationships with others. 

I am guilty of this for most of my life until I finally understood leadership. Besides my immediate family and those close to me, I did not put much time and effort into developing other relationships. I just did not see a need to do so. Yet. One big reason why others would willingly follow, trust, and be influenced by you, is the relationships that you have with them. 

2. Know yourself. 

2. Know yourself. 

How you lead yourself is a strong indication of how you lead others. For example. I am very focused on executing. That is how I relate to myself and to the world around me. When I work with others, naturally my attention is on high quality execution of ideas. So the important aspect here is to know yourself, so you will know the words, actions, and decisions that you will take and make when leading others.  

3. Free your time by building a team that doesn’t need you. 

3. Free your time by building a team that doesn’t need you. 

Time management is still very relevant. Many First Time Leaders try and fail to do it all. There are simply not enough hours in a day. A lot is due to the perspective that a leader should have all the answers and be saving the day. That is completely unrealistic. The key of a successful leader is to build a team so they can handle the operational day to day. This frees up the leaders time to focus on leading and other strategic matters. 

4. Rest and recreation time are just as important. 

4. Rest and recreation time are just as important. 

Leading others to their success is a full time job. It can be pretty tiring because some find it difficult to switch off once they leave work. Yet, it is important to get adequate rest because your ability to lead depends on your mind and body. If you are tired or worn out, then you will struggle to lead well, and that could lead to bad days at work and for your team. 

5. Don’t destroy your health and your family trying to solve everything. 

5. Don’t destroy your health and your family trying to solve everything. 

Leaders are appointed to solve problems, but the challenge is that problems are endless; resolve one and another will quickly pop up. Don’t destroy your health trying to solve everyone there and then. Instead take a ‘divide and conquer’ approach that the team is there to solve problems at their level, and that only more challenge problems should be handled by you.  

6. Constantly invest in your own leadership. 

6. Constantly invest in your own leadership.

Your ability to lead others out of challenges is highly dependent on the level of your leadership that you bring into the equation. If you are not constantly investing in elevating your own leadership, your team bears the brunt of your ineffectiveness. Not only that, you are also stagnating which means setting yourself up for failure to advance to future leadership opportunities.  

7. Learn a wide variety of topics, not just on leadership. 

7. Learn a wide variety of topics, not just on leadership. 

To effectively lead yourself, you need to be proficient and knowledgeable in a wide range of topics. The same applies when it comes to leading others. No two leadership situations are ever alike, even if there are similarities between them. You need to be well read to draw a diverse field of knowledge to tackle leadership challenges that arise.  

8. Books. 

8. Books. 

In this day and age where information is readily accessible at our fingertips, the real test is in the ability to absorb information, convert into lessons, and apply the knowledge. Books have not died out because in reading a book, you are absorbing information that the author has taken a long time to process and sort through. One of the most influential books that has impacted my leadership is Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. 

9. Lessons from your Family. 

9. Lessons from your Family. 

Those connected by a willingness to help each other. They are your family. Everyone in your family plays a role according to certain dynamics. Power struggle, Need for attention, etc. Take that observation back into your work family, with you (as the First-Time Leader) being the parent, and your team members being your ‘children’. Do you notice similar dynamics at place?  

10. Healthy body, Healthy mind. 

10. Healthy body, Healthy mind. 

Anything that negatively impacts your mind and body impacts your ability to lead. It is fair to conclude that to operate at your peak leadership fitness, you have to be healthy. Now. We are not referring to 6 pack abs or toned arms. I would say exercise or lead a lifestyle that is free of any serious addiction. 

11. Take a break. 

11. Take a break.

Leadership is demanding. All the time. If your leadership is like a knife, then constant demand will eventually dull your edge. If your edge is dull, so is your ability to lead. Take the necessary break now and then to sharpen yourself. Others depend on you to do so.  

12. Learn from failures. 

12. Learn from failures.

I have interviewed enough leaders in my research to know with certainty that every successful leader was made. No matter how much talent they had, all had to learn from failures. There is no escaping from that. The key is to learn from those failures, so you can lead better the next time a similar situation occurs.  

13. Have a coach or mentor. 

13. Have a coach or mentor.

One of the quickest ways to learn from failure is to have someone who you trust point out where the mistakes are. In fact, they could even be perspectives and insights that could lead to different outcomes. That is why every successful person has one or more mentors or coaches. It is great to have mentors that you can have access to. Other times, you have to pay for that access. 

14. Show up and Step up. 

14. Show up and Step up. 

You cannot lead if you are not involved in a situation, so the first step to leading is to show up. The next step is to get involved more than anyone else. That could mean rather than just working on your own portion of the work, you take on more responsibilities where you have to work with others and ‘lead’ them to achieve results.  

15. Reflection 

15. Reflection 

Most of us are hired to work in organisations where our focus is on executing. That form of execution may change when you become a First Time Leader, however, ultimately it is still execution. That leaves you with little time to reflect on your leadership. Yet, reflection is essential because going through the details of your words, actions, and decisions, by yourself or with a trusted mentor / coach can help you realise where improvements can be made. 

Investments in yourself to grow as a leader 

When you grow as a person and in your ability to lead yourself, you will grow in your ability to lead others. That is the essence of leadership, and therefore it is imperative that you prioritise time for your own development. It is my hope that these 15 investments for yourself as a First Time Leaders will take you a long way. 

Daniel Lee
November 9, 2021 | 648 views
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