6 ‘Must Read’ lists for a first time manager

Becoming a Manager is a big deal.  Like, a really big deal.

Far too often, the step from ‘individual contributor’ to Manager is glossed over, rushed, assumed, or forced.

The promotion into this step should be, in my opinion, done carefully and deliberately – with a proper amount of excitement, accolades, and support.

But regardless of how it happened, you may find yourself in that seat now.  It’s time to think a little bit differently, act a lot differently, and judge your own work and success differently.

To begin thinking this way, I have relied upon 6 pieces, from various authors and sources, that I share with first time managers.

Take a look at these wise pieces of advice and counsel from various experts:

  1. 7 Secrets First-Time Leaders Want to Know, Lolly Daskal
  2. 25 Tips for New Managers, Dan McCarthy
  3. 5 Essential Lessons for First Time Managers, ‘The Muse’ (contributor to Forbes.com)
  4. 8 Tips to Help First-Time Managers Thrive, Craig Cincotta (on Entrepreneur.com)
  5. Top 10 Leadership Tips for First-time Managers, Profiles International
  6. Why First-Time Managers Fail, Andrew G. Rosen (U.S. News)

…after you read them (or at least skim them for key ideas & topics), think what you feel you should incorporate into your own leadership & management!  You know yourself and your situation best.

I recommend making a brief list of the topics/ideas that resonate with you right now, and write them down.  From that list, pick one (yes, ONE) topic you will focus on for the next few months.  Make that a part of your thought, study, learning and daily management practices!  Then, once you feel like you’ve almost ‘mastered’ that one, do it again!  Pick another, then another.  #onebyone #slowandsteadywinstherace

Eyes Wide Open Trust – the power of effective boundaries

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Trust must be given, not earned, but I’m not advocating blind trust.

My wife and I have four boys: Christian, Preston, Jackson, and Lincoln. When they were little, the street in front of our house was completely off-limits. The risk was too great. But if they were still afraid to cross the street as thirteen-year-olds, or twenty-year-olds, we’d have a problem. I want my boys to wisely take risks that are worth taking, and to not live in fear. But I don’t want them to walk across the street with their eyes closed. I want them to have their eyes wide open and look both ways. And then to walk forward.

In the same way, I’m not asking you to plunge ahead foolishly, but to make a mature, calculated, thoughtful decision to trust because you’ve decided the benefits outweigh the risks.

By all means, be aware of red flags when you sense that someone isn’t trustworthy–they don’t necessarily mean that there’s no way forward, but you should ask where they are coming from, take more careful steps, and set appropriate boundaries.

Not blind trust. Eyes-wide-open trust.

Have you ever known anyone who seemed to think that trust was a sign of weakness, and that putting themselves in a vulnerable position would make them needy? The truth is entirely the opposite.

The decision to trust is a profoundly free act.

Only a confident, secure, courageous person can choose to trust.

Far from being a sign of weakness, mature vulnerability can only come from a place of strength.

For those situations when it doesn’t seem reasonable to give trust or where there are areas of concern with other parties involved in your relationship, you can approach the situation with your eyes wide open.

  1. Determine what is not safe

If you find yourself in a situation where giving trust or entering into the relationship is questionable, determine what it is that makes it questionable. Get to the root and give it a name. Is there question with integrity, are there illegal activities, does violence or harm concern you? If you can pinpoint the area(s) of question, you will be better able to create the boundaries and plan going forward.

  1. Determine what is safe

What is the good or the safe part of the relationship? Just like you determined what is not safe, do the same for what actually is good. Is the integrity of the individual good? Are they fully competent? Do they have a good heart and a strong desire to do what is right? Whatever it is, focus on it and draw attention to the good.

  1. Create clear (but few) boundaries

Boundaries don’t keep you from playing the game (link to past post), they allow you to play the game. Creating boundaries is not easy but sometimes it is critical. Determine the few boundaries that will make the relationship safe and use them for managing the relationship. If you are in a position of authority, your boundaries may look very different from when you are not. If someone is verbally abusive, the boundary might be that you won’t accept the verbal abuse and when they do, you simply walk away. If someone fails to meet deadlines time after time, you may ask them to report on progress of their projects at various milestones along the way.

  1. Take a step

You will never get closer to someone if you don’t take a step towards them. Hoping and wanting doesn’t decrease the distance between you and another person. You must decide (you want high trust) and then do (take a trust step towards them).

In case you think that I can’t identify with the difficulty of boundaries, let me share a story from my personal life. In the post The Big Lie About Trust I promised I would address the crazies in your life. Many years ago we were friends with a couple and there were some areas of concern with the past of one of them. We were close and hoped for a life-long relationship with them. The concerns we had weren’t just questions or speculation – they were well founded and also shared by some of their own family members, several of their close friends and even the court of law had ruled and delivered a permanent restraining order to this individual. Without going into specifics, these areas of concern caused us to not feel comfortable leaving our children alone with them. The information that we had learned and our concerns alone didn’t make them bad people and we actually never thought badly about the individual. We just had discernment that it wouldn’t be wise or safe to allow our kids to be alone with them.

It is possible to love, respect and care for someone AND not allow your kids to be alone. The boundary that we created was that as long as I was there, the kids could be there. If I wasn’t there, it wasn’t OK. We didn’t expect them to do bad things or cause harm, we just weren’t willing to take the risk.

In this environment, we determined the boundaries and then within those boundaries, we could have a full relationship. These boundaries weren’t created to prohibit our relationship, they were actually created so we could have a relationship.

I wish I could report that this relationship is thriving and healthy. The fact is, about 6 years into our relationship using these boundaries, they felt hurt and angered and didn’t see the boundaries as protective, but rather as damning. They have chosen to not be in relationship with us and in the end, we both lose because of this.

Don’t go blindly into relationships. Don’t close your eyes and walk unaware into situations but also, don’t cripple yourself with doubt and fear. Walk into the relationship, look both ways and take steps forward with confidence.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!


richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin

12 Practical Steps to Leading with High Trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

We’ve talked about how high-trust relationships start with you, the person who wants high trust, giving trust to another person without knowing whether you’ll get anything in return. But what does it look like on a practical level to communicate trust?

People will believe that you trust them when you take time to know them personally, you respect them, and you let them have influence. Below are some practical ways you can show trust to individuals and create a larger team culture of trust.

Listen, Learn, and Like. It goes a long way with people when you sincerely listen to them with the intent to learn. If you want to give trust, show interest. Find out where they’re coming from, especially when you disagree. This communicates that you assume they’re a reasonable, well-intentioned person. Find something you like about them. You don’t have to become best friends, but it should be your goal to like them.

Relentlessly pursue their strengths. Figure out what they are good at and what comes easily for them, and draw that out. Draw attention to it. Give them opportunities to shine. The more they work in their strengths, the more value they add to the team and the more they value their work.

Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with goals and commitments from the employee and from their boss. Create a game plan for growing, learning, and adding more value.

Share your leadership responsibilities. Give your team members assignments to lead certain aspects of your team. Let them run meetings, plan events, coordinate customer site visits, or participate in the planning and budgeting process. Let go of the reigns a bit and give them some freedom.

Get over yourself. Let’s be honest. One of the key reasons why you may not like relinquishing control to someone else is that you believe you are better, smarter, or more qualified than they are. Stop that. How did you get where you are?  Likely by someone better, smarter, and more qualified getting out of your way.

Allow growth and expect failures.  Not everyone succeeds on the first try and nobody succeeds always. Be willing to push people to grow, and in doing so, expect failure. Celebrate it. Failure is education, and if we don’t fail we won’t learn. As Henry Ford said, those who never make mistakes work for those who do.

Expose them to the larger process. I intentionally introduce my boys to people and concepts that are above their current level of life. They might not understand a conversation about balancing a checkbook, but they’re seeing what it means to be an adult. The same holds true in business. Exposing your team members to decision makers, stakeholders, clients, macro-level discussions, and other aspects of your organization that are above their current job description communicates that you trust them, you expect them to advance, and you’re invested in their future.

Ask your team for ideas. Hold innovation bursts where you brainstorm ideas for improvements, find opportunities for efficiencies, create new ideas, and improve old ones. Collect these ideas and implement something. If you can’t implement something, let them know, but if you can, do!

Get good at defining projects. Give your team projects with defined time frames and goals, make sure they have the resources they need, and then set them loose. Let them know what you desire as an outcome, but let them figure out how to get there. This allows you to give more freedom and them to take initiative, while minimizing frustration for all involved.

Work when and where it makes sense. Not everyone can or should work from home (or at the lake, or in the evening, or from a coffee shop). But when it makes sense, allow flexibility in how your team gets their work done. Trust them to manage their results.

Look for opportunities to say yes. Instead of saying no to your team’s unusual requests, instead think, “what needs to happen so I can say yes?”

Support their passions. If you support volunteerism and corporate giving, come alongside your team members and allow them to direct where you give. Let them volunteer for a cause they care about, or provide some level of match to their existing giving.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!


richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin