How to Not Do Anything Stupid with Your New Team

How to Not Do Anything Stupid with Your New Team

A young manager with a new team is like an ant pushing an elephant. It’s smart to be concerned.

My friend Stan Endicott tells managers who ask for advice, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Aspiration isn’t the problem. But persistent stupidity defeats the brightest among us. Sometimes the smarter we are, the stupider we get.

Image of an ant's head. How does an ant move an elephant? With lots of help!Image of an ant's head. How does an ant move an elephant? With lots of help!

How to not do anything stupid:

Young managers succeed by aspiration, openness, and NOT doing anything stupid.

Make a list of 10 stupid things you don’t want to do in the first 90 days of leading your team. Share your list with a mentor or coach. Be sure they have lots of experience. Here are a few suggestions.

It’s stupid to:

  1. Think the same way about yourself.
  2. Keep doing your old job in the same way.
  3. Expect that you’re going to do everything right.
  4. Jump right in before building relationships.

How to be smart:

#1. Show up with confidence, not arrogance.

Spend some time acknowledging challenges, but don’t circle the blackhole. What words will you use that express heart and belief?

#2. Practice apologizing, not blaming. (Literally)

Imagine that you screwed up. What will you say? Work on taking responsibility.

Always turn toward the future after apologizing for the past.

Get with a coach or mentor and literally practice your apology. You’re going to need it.

#3. Show up with big ears and a small mouth.

Send the following questions to the team before your first meeting.

  1. Imagine the best team ever. How does that team treat each other?
  2. What do we expect from each other?
  3. What will we do when someone drops the ball?
  4. How do we want to feel about our team? What behaviors are likely to foster those feelings?
  5. How will we make decisions?

Tip: Learn how to run meetings people love to attend.

How does an ant move an elephant? With lots of help.

What are some stupid things people do when managing a new team?

What suggestions do you have for a young manager taking on a new team?

Suggested reading:

Start with Why

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Smart Leadership

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