The Biggest Obstacle to Becoming a Great New Manager

There’s a myriad of challenges everyone faces in making their first step into management. Getting the level of transparency right, the challenges of managing previous peers, stepping up to a new level of expectation, fear of failure…the list goes on.

No one experience in stepping up to your first role in management is the same, however there is one thing that unites nearly every up and coming Finance Manager as a key challenge:

Working out what your own leadership style looks like

When you move into management, you’ll find everyone has an opinion. You’ll read, you’ll search the web, you’ll go to management programmes, and you’ll develop mentors and ‘interested’ observers in your career development. This can be overwhelming, and can, if left unchecked, create an oscillating management style influenced by many different approaches, with no unified objective. Not only may this come across as inauthentic, it can create personal stress, caused by balancing so many differing approaches.

Why do people follow you?

Your own leadership style must come down to you. If conflicted, take a step back and try to evaluate why you’re here in the first place. Why were you promoted? What feedback have you had in the past? What do people say about you in peer reviews? If necessary, sit down with your mentor, sponsor, or even line manager and try to focus in on identifying your key strengths – the strengths that make you the emerging leader everyone else sees.

Play to your strengths while targeting your weaknesses

Then, focus on building your leadership style through your strengths. If you were promoted because of your skill in bringing technical subjects to life, bring that back into your style as a leader – hold a learning lunch or call a meeting to focus in on driving a key improvement. If it was because of your strength in encouraging less confident members of staff to engage in team or stakeholder conversations, look around. Who in your team can you help? By getting back in touch with your core values, you will build your inner confidence and outwards credibility. Which will allow you to free up development time for addressing your weaknesses as a leader – presentation skills…or maybe everyone’s fear – conflict management.


The last thing to consider is who you ask for advice. Generally, having more support is the better, but at this ‘formative’ time, it may be better to reduce your circle of advisors until you start to develop confidence and clarity on how your leadership style is evolving. Having a key mentor who doesn’t manage you is essential – someone objective and that you can openly confide in; but so is ensuring you’re working in a productive manner with your own line manager. Don’t hide – you need support. Just make sure it’s not sending you around in circles.

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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