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Ready, set, lead: the importance of new leader training and development

By Julian Lewis May 4, 2023

Ready, set, lead: the importance of new leader training and development

Leadership is a critical element for the success of any organization, and new leaders play a vital role in shaping the future of the company. However, taking on a leadership role can be challenging, particularly for those who have not had prior experience in leading teams or managing people. Without proper training and development, new leaders may struggle to navigate the complexities of their new role, leading to ineffective leadership, low team morale, and diminished organizational performance.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of new leader training and development, and why investing in your new leaders can be the key to achieving long-term success for your organization. We'll examine the various benefits of providing comprehensive leadership training, and explore some effective strategies for developing soft skills and empowering new leaders to take on their roles with confidence and skill.

Common challenges facing new managers

Common challenges facing new managers

When faced with their new responsibilities, new leaders will encounter a number of common obstacles, including:

Managing people:

One of the biggest challenges that new managers face is managing people effectively. This includes building relationships, setting expectations, providing feedback, and motivating and engaging their team members. It can be difficult to navigate different personalities, skills gaps, and work styles, while also ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.

Delegating tasks:

New managers may struggle with delegating tasks and responsibilities to their team members. They may feel like they need to do everything themselves or may not have a good understanding of their team members' skills and strengths. Effective delegation is key to building a high-performing team and freeing up time for more strategic tasks.

Time management:

Another challenge that new managers face is managing their time effectively. They may have a lot of demands on their time, including meetings, emails, and administrative tasks, while also trying to lead their team and work on strategic initiatives. Learning how to prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently is essential for success.

5 skills all first-time managers should develop

5 skills all first-time managers should develop

As new managers, it can be overwhelming to step into a leadership role without having any prior experience. However, there are certain essential leadership skills that first-time managers can develop to help them navigate the complexities of their new management role well. Read on to explore 5 leadership skills that all first-time managers should develop.

#1 Strong interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills refer to the ability to build positive relationships with others. As a first-time manager, it's crucial to develop strong interpersonal skills to establish trust, build rapport, establish credibility, and foster collaboration with your team members. This includes being empathetic, practicing active listening, and effectively managing conflicts.

#2 Communication skills

Communication skills are crucial for any leader, particularly for first-time managers. Developing clear and concise communication skills can help you effectively convey your expectations, delegate tasks, and provide feedback to your team members. This includes the ability to give clear instructions, actively listen to others, and provide constructive feedback.

#3 Conflict resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, and first-time managers must learn how to effectively manage conflicts within their team. This includes being able to identify the source of the conflict, finding common ground between opposing parties, and implementing solutions that are satisfactory to all involved parties.

#4 Feedback and coaching skills

Effective feedback and coaching can help team members improve their performance and reach their full potential. As a first-time manager, it's important to develop feedback and coaching skills to help your team members succeed. This includes being able to provide constructive feedback, setting goals, and developing personalized coaching plans.

#5 Time management

Time management is a crucial skill for first-time managers. Managing your own time effectively can help you stay organized, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines. Additionally, effective time management skills can help you model good habits for your team members and set expectations for productivity and efficiency.

What to include in a new manager training program

What to include in a new manager training program

While the core principles of first-time manager training may be similar across different organizations, it's important to recognize that every organization is unique and has its own set of priorities and challenges. As such, first-time manager training should be tailored to the specific needs and goals of the organization.

Here are some factors that should be prioritized in management training to turn first-time managers into good leaders:

Company overview

Providing an overview of the company's values, culture, structure, and hierarchy is a crucial part of any new manager training program. This information sets the foundation for a new manager's understanding of the organization and its goals, as well as the expectations and responsibilities of their role.

Start by introducing the company's mission statement and core values. This will help new managers understand the purpose of the organization and the guiding principles that drive its operations. Incorporate an explanation of the company's culture and how it shapes the behaviors and interactions of employees. Be sure to provide examples of how the company's culture is reflected in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

You'll also want to Provide an overview of the organization's structure, including its departments, teams, and reporting structure. This will help new managers understand the relationships between different parts of the organization and how their team fits into the bigger picture. Explain the chain of command within the organization, including who new managers will report to and who their direct reports will be.

Business acumen:

As new managers take on leadership roles within their organizations, it's important that they have a solid understanding of their organization's goals, strategies, and financials. Training on project management and business acumen can help new managers gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and drive the success of their teams.

Teach new leaders how to identify and track key performance indicators (KPIs) that are critical to their team's success. This includes understanding how to set KPIs, track progress, and make data-driven decisions based on performance metrics. Additionally, training centered around how to develop and implement effective strategies that align with the organization's goals and objectives should be prioritized. Some examples include understanding how to analyze market trends, assess strengths and weaknesses, and develop action plans to achieve strategic objectives.

Ethics and compliance:

In today's highly competitive business environment, ethical leadership is more important than ever. Organizations that prioritize ethical decision-making and corporate social responsibility are more likely to earn the trust of their stakeholders, build strong relationships with customers, and attract and retain top talent. As such, it's crucial that new managers receive training on business ethics to ensure they understand the importance of upholding ethical standards within their teams and the organization as a whole.

Provide training on the organization's code of conduct, including understanding the expectations for ethical behavior, reporting ethical violations, and upholding the organization's values and culture. A first-time manager also needs to receive appropriate training on legal and regulatory compliance to understand the laws and regulations that apply to the organization and its operations, and how to ensure compliance with these requirements.

Leadership fundamentals:

Developing leadership skills is crucial for new managers as they step into their new roles. Leadership training should be a fundamental part of any new manager training program, as it will help them build strong relationships with their team members, motivate and engage employees, set expectations, delegate tasks, and communicate effectively.

To prepare a first-time manager for the common challenges described above, focus on administering training that teaches individuals how to delegate tasks effectively, including understanding the strengths and weaknesses of team members, communicating expectations clearly, and providing necessary support and resources. Training on how to motivate and engage employees should also be included in the program and should cover the significance of recognition, creating a positive workplace, and aligning individual goals with the organization's mission and values.

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Performance management:

Effective performance management is critical for ensuring that employees are meeting their goals and contributing to the success of the organization. Training on performance management could include topics such as setting goals, providing feedback, conducting performance reviews, and handling performance issues.

Examples of how to train first-time managers on these topics could include role-playing exercises, case studies, and simulations. For example, in a role-playing exercise, new managers could be asked to provide feedback to a team member based on a specific scenario. In a case study, they could analyze a hypothetical team performance issue and develop a plan for improvement. In a simulation, they could practice conducting a performance review with a simulated team member and receive feedback on their performance.

By providing training on effective performance management, new managers will be equipped with the valuable skills and knowledge they need to ensure that employees are meeting their goals and contributing to the overall success of the organization.

Communication coaching:

Communication is a two-way process, and managers need to be able to effectively convey their messages and ideas, as well as actively listen to feedback and concerns. Training on communication skills could include topics such as active listening, effective communication, conflict resolution, and public speaking.

If a new leader doesn't master their communication skills, it can have negative consequences for the organization. Misunderstandings can arise, conflicts can escalate, and team morale can suffer. Poor communication can also lead to decreased productivity, missed opportunities, and loss of credibility for the manager and the organization as a whole. Additionally, poor communication can hinder a manager's ability to build relationships, motivate and engage employees, and make informed decisions.

Check out our ultimate guide on types of coaching in the workplace for more information. Interested in becoming a coach yourself? Check out Becoming a business coach: the ultimate guide or How to become an executive coach: the ultimate guide instead.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion:

Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is key to any organization's success in today's global and interconnected business environment. New managers should be trained on how to foster an environment that embraces diversity and encourages equity and inclusion. Training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) should be included in any new manager training program, and could include the following topics:

Unconscious bias:

Provide training on unconscious bias, including understanding how it can affect decision-making, behaviors, and interactions in the workplace. This includes strategies for recognizing and mitigating unconscious bias, such as increasing awareness, questioning assumptions, and seeking diverse perspectives.

Inclusive leadership:

New managers should be taught inclusive leadership skills, which include recognizing the significance of creating a culture of belonging, appreciating diversity, and encouraging open communication. The training should also highlight strategies for fostering an inclusive workplace, such as setting clear expectations, offering support and resources, and acknowledging and celebrating diversity.

Cultural competence:

Cultural competence refers to the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. It involves understanding and appreciating different cultural norms, values, and beliefs, as well as recognizing and respecting diversity.

To train a new leader about cultural competence, you could start by providing them with an overview of the concept and specific strategies to help them build relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds, increase cultural awareness, and recognize and address cultural differences.

Mentorship or “buddy-ship” program

One way to help new managers develop their skills and positively contribute to their colleagues' professional development is through a mentorship or "buddy-ship" program. This type of program pairs new managers with experienced managers or colleagues who can provide guidance, support, and practical advice as they navigate their new roles.

One of the first steps in implementing a mentorship or buddy-ship program is identifying experienced managers who could serve as mentors or buddies. Look for managers who have a track record of success, strong leadership skills, and a willingness to invest in the professional development of others. Once you have identified potential mentors or buddies, define the program structure. This could include setting expectations for how often mentors and mentees will meet, what topics they will cover, and how progress will be tracked and evaluated.

Next, provide training to mentors and buddies on how to effectively guide and support new managers. This could include topics such as active listening, providing feedback, and developing leadership skills. Monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the mentorship or buddy-ship program. Regular check-ins with mentors and mentees can help identify areas where additional support or training may be needed.

Recap: prioritizing leadership development for new leaders

Recap: prioritizing leadership development for new leaders

The importance of new leader training and development cannot be overstated. In some cases, a well-laid-out and executed training plan can be the difference between great leaders and mediocre ones. The skills and knowledge gained through a comprehensive training program can help new managers navigate the challenges of leading a team, building strong relationships, fostering an inclusive workplace, and creating a culture of high performance.

With the right guidance, new leaders can develop the confidence and skills needed to succeed in their roles and positively impact their organizations. Investing in new leader training and development is not just a sound business decision, but it is also a crucial step in creating a culture of excellence and driving organizational success.

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About Julian Lewis

Julian Lewis is a driven and accomplished professional with a passion for driving positive change in the business world. As the co-founder and COO at Zella Life, a coaching on-demand platform, he is working to bridge the diversity gap between diverse talent and internal team leaders. His own experience as a professional of color in a Fortune 500 company led him to discover the limitations for advancement that many professionals like himself face. Determined to reach his full potential, Julian became an established business coach and entrepreneur, committed to supporting others who have been culturally conditioned to remain silent in their pursuit of personal and professional growth.

Today, Julian is a recognized corporate trainer, coach, and leader, known for his ability to leverage real-life experiences and evidence-based methodologies to affect positive change within individuals and organizations. As the leader of Zella Life's coaching division, he is dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential. Julian's unique perspective and passion for coaching make him a valuable asset to any organization.