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A Toolkit for New Managers

people having a business meeting

Moving into a managerial role is difficult: responsibilities expand from primarily skills-based to include new leadership duties. New managers must negotiate how much time to spend on their individual job responsibilities while overseeing others. A survey from Robert Half Management Resources showed that 32% of respondents found this balancing act to be the most difficult part of becoming a manager for the first time. Other difficulties included supervising former peers, motivating the team, and meeting higher performance expectations. Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith says: “What got you here won’t get you there.” Management is an entirely different skills set.

We know that new managerial responsibilities can be as challenging as they are exciting, so to help you smoothly transition to your next role, we’ve compiled a short list of new managers’ top concerns and ways to overcome them.

Balancing Authority

Forbes reports that new managers have to find a balance in exercising authority. Management doesn’t need to be adored by the entire office nor try to be everybody’s friend. However, at the other end of the spectrum, overly punitive management has been shown to be unsuccessful. New managers must develop their own style, tailoring their approach to individuals and situations. Furthermore, learning to set and enforce boundaries can help establish professional relationships by striking a balance between being approachable but maintaining authority.


Dr. Homa Bahrami of Berkeley Haas and UC Berkeley Executive Education studies dynamic leadership and knowledge-based industries. She developed the “super-flexibility” concept, a characteristic to help leaders manage organizations. “Super-flexibility is the ability to engage in a constant balancing act. What do I need to maintain stability, but where do I need to adapt my team, structure, or product,” says Bahrami. “Flexibility is the secret sauce.” In her view, new managers that are self-aware and receptive to change are more likely to find success.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

New managers aren’t expected to know everything. Asking for help is a valuable, critical, yet underrated skill. It is always better to seek clarification early on rather than make mistakes that you’ll have to clean up later. Beyond transparency and asking for help, portraying confidence (even if you don’t mean it) can go a long way. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly solid in your leadership abilities, psychological research has shown that there are social and cognitive truths to increasing confidence by pretending you have it. By pretending you are confident, others are more likely to see you as capable, which in turn leads to seeing yourself as capable.

Dive Deeper

Take a deep-dive into this topic and gain expert, working knowledge by joining us for the program that inspired it!

New Manager Boot Camp

Improve your essential management skills to advance business agility, manage complex change, and become a confident manager.

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