Create your Leadership Network

Raymond D. White
4 min readMar 25, 2019

Quick Tip for First-time Supervisors

When I started my formal leadership position three years ago, I thought it was going to be a breeze!

Naw I’m lying. I was terrified! I was in a brand new role leading a team of 32 members and supervise their work that I had no formal experience in.

Needless to say, I was very intimidated.

So many questions swirled in my head every day at work:

I wanted to show vulnerability, but not to the point where I was seen as incompetent to lead.

So to start out, I wanted to go all out! Be on my a-game at all times, seeing if I could anticipate all the answers that would come my way, and be the best of the best of the best, sir!

That meant attending every meeting that I could. Or trying to remember all the dynamics and history of our teams. I also jumped in to every issue that was happening on my team to see if I can learn and solve the problems quickly just to show that I can do the job.

I almost made myself sick.

I was worrying about so many things, like team moral, work processes, personnel issues, that it made me overthink all day and well into the night.

I would beat myself up if I missed something that I felt like I should have known in my role. Even if it were specific work efforts that the staff as subject matter experts know, I felt like i should know that as well.

So much was already happening on the job, but I was also trying to learn more and more outside of the job as well to stay up on game. I was trying to do it all!

Something had to change! I quickly found some leaders in the organization that I could lean on for guidance and understanding. Out of those meetings, I was told that I cannot be expected to know everything, do everything, or solve everything. The important thing was to lean in on my strengths and be present for the team when they need someone.

Fast forward three years, I do a lot of things differently. I have gotten better with delegating and trusting my team with certain decisions. I have leaned into my strengths of connecting with people and arranging them into successful positions for the organizations. I have also found my stride in developing sustainable practices for my soul while on the job.

What helped me the most was leaning into the network of leaders that have been in the position longer than me.

Over time, you begin to learn what works and what doesn’t work in leading a team. The key thing that I found is that if I engaged with other leaders early on, I would have cut down the amount of working alone faster. My time learning in being an effective leader in that space could have cut down significantly rather than feeling like I had to figure it out on my own.

Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash

Don’t let your leadership begin in this way!

Tapping into a leadership network helps you feel supported and sustained in your new role as a leader. Connections with leaders who have been there before can give you insights of what has worked and what has not worked so that you can shape your experience with minimal downfalls

That is not to say that you will never experience any pitfalls. It will, however, save you from crucial mistakes on your path towards success.

There are couple of messages I want to share with two sets of people:

For the first time leaders

If you are a first time leader, do not feel the obligation to try and solve all the world’s problems right away. Give yourself some grace be engaged, learn, ask questions and be present. And do not be afraid to ask for help and find a mentor to assist in your new responsibilities as a leader.

For the veteran leaders

If you are a leader who has hired a first time leader, be close to coach them. Set up some reasonable boundaries to let them know where they can operate. Continue to check in on them to make sure they are not burning themselves out and be sure to mentor them through situations they may not have experienced before.

Within our work spaces, let’s start creating networks for leaders to work together and support one another in their efforts to lead well. The opportunities to build community in that way could benefit anyone looking to impact their teams greatly. Help make someone else’s experience better than yours by guiding them through the process.

If you do not have a network, start one! Engage other leaders in the organization and ask them “what do you wish you would have learned when you first started as a leader?” That question alone could create opportunities for leaders to come together and share their wisdom for the next generation of leaders.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts!

Ray

Originally published at https://raymondwhite.net on March 25, 2019.

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Raymond D. White

I collaborate with leaders to integrate DEI into their people & culture strategies. Need help developing a belonging team culture? Let’s chat!