First managerial roles can be so exciting and so challenging. Most of us are thrown into jobs managing others because we were really great at doing the job at hand – without any direct reports. Suddenly we are given the management reins and expected to smoothly and effectively lead a team of people to great results and even greater success.

The first foray into management is often a series of missteps for most people. We don’t really know how to manage other people and we may try too hard to be “the boss” or focus too much time on having people like us or spend too much time in the details where we are comfortable rather than letting go and delegating. My experience both as a corporate executive and as an executive coach has shown me that three of the most important things you need to grow into an effective leader are self-awareness – knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, style, and preferences; an awareness of others – being attuned to others’ behaviors, styles, and needs; and the ability to communicate – conveying clear messages, listening actively, and engaging in productive dialogue.

The CNN Money/Fortune blog features a great account from a young company founder, Amanda Pouchot, of her first year as a manager and leader and the lessons she learned along the way. Her takeaways, listed below, drive home the point that interpersonal interactions and communications are key to a successful leap into managing and leading:

  • It’s all about talking;
  • There is such a thing as feedback etiquette;
  • Experienced employees make great teachers; and
  • Managers are made over time

We have all learned lessons along our path through leadership, but often none are more striking or impactful than those from our first manager role.

What were the most important lessons from your first experience as a manager?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in supporting your first-time managers, contact Robyn at

Click here to receive The Thoughtful Leaders™ Blog posts via e-mail and receive a copy of “Ending Leadership Frenzy: 5 Steps to Becoming a More Thoughtful and Effective Leader.”

Photo Credit: AndreyPopov/

New York: 212.537.6897 | Pennsylvania: 610.254.0244