With Martin G. Moore

Episode #209

The New Leaders’ Playbook: Where do you start?

New leaders: this is the framework you need to follow if you want to be successful in your first leadership roles.

Experienced leaders: the reason so many new leaders struggle is because they’re given little direction and, as much as I hate to say this, poor role models to learn from… this is your opportunity to acquire some practical tools that you can use to coach, nurture, and develop your new leaders.

In this episode, I take a detailed look at the four key transition areas:

  • The mental and psychological transition;

  • Managing the work program;

  • Establishing relationships; and

  • Getting superior outcomes from your team.

I’ve curated a number of podcast episodes that will put practical tools and strategies in your hands, and help you master the transition to leadership, whether it’s your first leadership role, or you’re the one who has to guide a new leader through the maze.


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Episode #209 The New Leaders’ Playbook: Where do you start?

A lot of the content we cover in the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast is applicable to any level of leadership, even though there’s a big difference between leading individual contributors and leading other leaders. But if you are new to a leadership role, where do you start? What should you focus on? How do you manage the need to contribute technically and still lead your team? How do you reshape the relationships you may have formed with people who were previously your peers, but who now report to you? There’s a lot of complexity in that transition to your first leadership role and, more often than not, you’re given very little guidance, and there isn’t a plethora of good role models to learn from.

If you’re a more experienced leader, don’t stop reading just yet – you really need to take these comments to heart. You have an obligation to coach, nurture and develop your new leaders, and this isn’t something that most senior leaders do well. But, if you take these lessons on board and use them as a practical guide to instruct your new leaders, you’ll greatly increase their likelihood of making a successful transition.

If you’re taking on your first leadership role, what should you do to really nail it? And if you are promoting people into those first-time leader roles, how do you set them up for success? Doing this well is the foundation for increasing your team’s capability and improving its performance – it’s a no brainer. So, I’ve broken this up into four elements:

  1. How to make the necessary mental and psychological adjustments as a new leader

  2. How to manage the work program

  3. How to manage your new relationships

  4. How to get superior results from the team

With over 200 episodes of No Bullsh!t Leadership, there’s a vast array of practical leadership tools and strategies in the podcast archives. But the downside of having so much content is that finding something specific can be challenging. So, I’m doing things a little differently today: I’m going to share a list of podcast episodes that you can listen to to develop your thinking and capability in any or all of these leadership transition areas. This basically gives you a solid roadmap to face into any of the challenges you are likely to find as a new leader, or that you may need to guide your new leaders through.


There’s a number of areas where you need to change your mindset. You shouldn’t expect to be able to change this overnight, but if you don’t focus on the right things, it can take years to reach the level of mental control that you need to lead people well. For me, you can’t get leadership skill until you have the right mindset.

1. The minute you step into a leadership role, you have to accept that not everyone is going to like you 

You could be the perfect leader. Heck, you could be the perfect person, and still not everyone’s going to like you. And if you’re really good, some of the people around you will actually resent you, because it shines a light on their own failings: that contrast isn’t always welcome. So, just recognise that no matter what you do, it’s impossible to be universally liked.

It’s so important to have the right mindset or you’ll struggle with this for years and it’ll tarnish everything you do. You simply won’t enjoy leading. 

Dive deep into conflict aversion, and find a new perspective on what it takes to win respect with Episode 206: It’s STILL Respect Before Popularity.

2. Understand what the fundamental nature of leadership is

What are you actually trying to achieve? And what’s the best leadership approach to employ and integrate into your unique leadership style?

There’s no shortage of content out there about desirable leadership attributes: humility, transparency, fallibility, integrity – all the good stuff – but this shouldn’t be the focus for you, as a new leader. It’s much more important to focus on what you need to do, rather than who you’re trying to be.

Adopt the right leadership posture with Episode 182: What Is Strong Leadership? and Episode 68: The Price of Leadership Weakness: Your People Suffer Most.

3. Get over the perception that no one can do the job as well as you 

Paradoxically, this actually might be true, especially if you’ve been promoted to run the team you used to be a member of. You’ve been chosen above your peers for a reason, and it’s often because you were the best performer at that technical level.

So when you start to manage the work outputs of the team, you’ll be tempted to make every output perfect. You won’t want to see anything less than you would produce yourself, but this is a fast track to an unsustainable workload.

There are loads of reasons why you need to take a different approach – one of Excellence Over Perfection. You should just accept that no one can do the job as well as you, and then direct your efforts towards increasing your people’s capability, not over-functioning for them by doing their work when it doesn’t meet your expectations.

Conquer your need for perfectionism, and adopt an achievement orientation with Episode 169: The Pursuit of Perfection: Sounds Noble, Doesn’t Work.

4. You need to become more resilient 

If you don’t have experience leading people, it’s unlikely that you will have developed the strength of resilience that you’ll eventually need. This is just like lifting weights in a gym. You can’t build muscle unless you experience the pain and resistance of the weights, and resilience is all about facing it to the pain of adversity.

We all face setbacks, obstacles and disappointments – it’s facing into this adversity willingly that builds your resilience. Ultimately, your goal should be to acquire the state of Grace Under Pressure.

Learn how to build your resilience, and stop stress and pressure bleeding into your personal life with Episode 43: People Follow Resilient Leaders: Keeping Your Cool 24/7.


This is really important for a new leader, and it’s a topic all on its own. You can do a lot of things right in leadership, but without the right focus on value, your results are still going to be poor.

As a new leader, you have to develop a value focus – and this is the be-all and end-all of leadership. This is why you’re there. Forget what you hear about leaders being there only to serve their people. That’s a byproduct of great leadership: it’s not the reason you’re there.

Your job as a leader is to create value: but it’s not just financial value. It comes in many different forms. You can create value by:

  • Improving the safety of your work environment,

  • Acquiring better competitor intelligence,

  • Having stronger compliance processes to protect your license to operate,

  • Improving service quality for your customers.

1. Understand what creates value for the organization as a whole, and how your team’s work feeds into this 

Making sure that you’re working on the right things is the critical first step. At least make sure you’re doing the right work before you think of how to do it. This is the centerpiece of our flagship education program, Leadership Beyond the Theory, and we go into really specific detail about how to define, trace, rank and deliver value in the program.

Explore what value looks like – and what it doesn’t look like, with Episode 42: First Create Value: Developing the Right Leadership Mindset.

2. Understand the relative value of the items on your team’s work program

You can’t do everything. It’s important to realize that we all try to do too much – it’s in our nature. And as a new leader, you’re going to want to impress your boss–you’re not going to want to say “no”.

But, somewhat paradoxically, success doesn’t come from showing that you can take on a never-ending workload. Success comes from doing less, and doing it really, really well. When we take on too much, we do everything half-assed. Real results come from delivering the high value outcomes, doing less work, and absolutely nailing the value delivery.

Adopt the discipline of doing the important things really, really well with Episode 67: Simplicity and Focus.


When it comes to relationships as a new leader, you’ll need to up the ante a bit. You’ll be developing new relationships with your team members that you never had to before, and very different relationships with your peers and your boss.

Obviously, managing relationships is a complex area, but fortunately, I’ve already done the heavy lifting when it comes to relationships. I’ve got four key areas for you to think about, each with some episodes for you to listen to if you want to get into the ‘how’. All of these are highly practical, with tools and guidance for execution.

1. Stamp your authority on the new role as quickly as possible 

People need to know what you’re going to do differently and how you intend to lead your team. If you do this quickly and with confidence, it’s going to set the scene completely differently from the situation where you just take a few tentative, uncertain steps. People can smell fear, and they can smell a lack of confidence.

Start off on the right foot with Episode 114: Making a Role Your Own

2. Work out the right tone of relationship to set with your team 

This is always tricky, but even more so if you’ve been promoted to lead the team you used to be a member of. You may already have formed some strong relationships (and even friendships) with the people you now have to lead. So it’s critical that you reset the tone, and give yourself the professional distance that’s going to enable you to lead strongly.

Learn how to establish and maintain professional distance with Episode 197: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

3. Be compassionate and empathetic without lowering your standards 

The very best leaders have boundless empathy, but they’re strong enough to know they need to lead their team to success. You also need to give people the freedom to make their personal choices without you inappropriately taking responsibility for them.

Find out how you can develop empathy and still focus on results with Episode 135: When Empathy Becomes Sympathy. What’s The Difference? 

4. Manage the relationships you have with your boss and your peers 

These relationships are often really difficult and every relationship is different, because of the personalities involved and the context you might be working in. But there are some rules of thumb here that you’ll find helpful in navigating this maze.

Download my 9 Rules of Thumb for Managing Upwards, and figure out what type of boss you’re working for with Episode 162: Managing Up a Cheat Sheet.

Manage the demands that are going to come at you from all sides, and make sure that you have the tools to contain everything from your work program, to your people’s outrageous demands for pay rises, with Episode 61: Learning To Say “No”.


As a new leader, nothing speaks louder than the results you achieve. And if you want to get great results, it’s about getting the most from your team – not just producing more of the same yourself. I have three key principles here for you to think about.

1. You need to be able to have difficult conversations with your people 

Your ability to sit comfortably in conflict is absolutely essential. Facing conflict is 90% will and 10% skill, especially when it comes to having those hard conversations with your people. So, we start right here, getting your head around how to step into one-on-one conflict situations willingly. We actually have a whole module dedicated to this in Leadership Beyond the Theory, where we give you the tools you need to move confidently into the conflict space.

Develop the will, and make it a fail-safe discipline in your leadership toolkit with Episode 6: The Psychology of Feedback

Build your skill and download a practical guide to construct a feedback conversation with Episode 22: Feedback Made Easy.

2. Think about how to conduct your day-to-day business

There’s a bunch of things you can do to improve execution in your team. And the first is to set really strong accountabilities. Everyone needs to know exactly what’s expected of them. They have to be empowered properly – that’s not as easy as it sounds – and they have to be held to account for their results.

Develop the accountability focus you need to execute and with Episode 19: Execution for Results: Driving Accountability In Your Team.

Bring clarity to who does what by reinforcing the importance of doing the job you are paid to do and making sure your people do theirs with Episode 7: Working at the Right Level: What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

3. Set and maintain a strong standard for performance in your team 

You can start by making sure you set a clear standard for both performance and behavior, and that no one feels as though they get a holiday from that standard, no matter what. Your essential toolkit then requires you to be able to work with each person in your team in the day-to-day, using the leadership dialogue to guide your interactions. Often, the toughest part of this is knowing how far you should push your team, and this calls for some astute judgment.

Download my 7 Rules of Thumb For Setting a Higher Standard, and raise expectations for your team with Episode 44: The Standard You Walk Past Is The Standard You Set

Give your team the opportunity to be their best, and truly impact their career trajectory – and lives – with Episode 57: Challenge, Coach, Confront

Explore why positive stress is essential for your people, and why it’s the key to unlocking exceptional performance with Episode 148: Stretching Your People Without Breaking Them.

As a new leader, you’ll find that some areas are tougher than others. What I’ve done in this article is to give you the guide-rails for what you should be thinking about. Don’t underestimate how valuable this is. I’ve curated what is effectively a disconnected set of topics, to give you a playbook that you can use to ensure your leadership career starts off on the right foot, and sets you up for a long and rewarding career.

For those of you who are leading new leaders, keep these episodes on tap, and prescribe them whenever you see your new leaders struggling with any of the leadership challenges that they’re facing. This is what’s going to help you to provide the guidance and support that many new leaders only wish they had.


  • Ep. #6: The Psychology of Feedback – Listen Here

  • Ep. #7: Working at the Right Level – Listen Here

  • Ep. #19: Execution for Results – Listen Here

  • Ep. #22: Feedback Made Easy – Listen Here

  • Ep. #42: First, Create Value – Listen Here

  • Ep. #43: People Follow Resilient Leaders – Listen Here

  • Ep. #44: The Standard You Walk Past is the Standard You Set – Listen Here

  • Ep. #57: Challenge, Coach, Confront – Listen Here

  • Ep. #61: Learning to Say No – Listen Here

  • Ep. #67: Simplicity and Focus – Listen Here

  • Ep. #68: The Price of Leadership Weakness – Listen Here

  • Ep. #114: Making a Role Your Own – Listen Here

  • Ep. #135: When Empathy Becomes Sympathy – Listen Here

  • Ep. #148: Stretching Your People Without Breaking Them – Listen Here

  • Ep. #162: Managing Up: A Cheat Sheet – Listen Here

  • Ep. #169: The Pursuit of Perfection – Listen Here

  • Ep. #182: What is Strong Leadership? – Listen Here

  • Ep. #197: Why Can’t We Be Friends? – Listen Here

  • Ep. #206: It’s Still Respect Before Popularity – Listen Here

  • Join the Crush Your Career Challenge 2022 – Here


  • Explore other podcast episodes – Here

  • Take our FREE Level Up Leadership Masterclass – Start Now

  • Check out our 8-week online leadership program, Leadership Beyond the TheoryLearn More


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