The Four Personalities of New Leaders and How to Coach Them

Let’s look at your newly minted first-time managers.

You’ve rewarded their talent, commitment and enthusiasm by elevating them to a leadership role within your business. Their transition comes with a new responsibility; the need to achieve results through leading others. For many in the new leader / first-time manger category, this will entail both a fresh mindset and upgraded skillset.

As their coach or manager, your coaching and support are essential in transforming your emerging leader into a competent and successful one. But a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work, as new leaders will find different aspects of their new role challenging, depending on the leadership personality they most naturally adopt.

The most common new leader types, and how to enable their success:

  1. Everyone’s Buddy

Keen to remain popular and a friend to everyone, this leader desires a fun and light-hearted environment, with banter and laughter the order of the day. Charismatic and engaging, this leader is likely committed to others’ success. Believing that their jovial and friendly approach is all that’s required to get people onside can be a pitfall for Everyone’s Buddy. Typically, they’ll find it difficult to have the tougher conversations, to implement meaningful accountability and to ensure process is followed.

How to coach Everyone’s Buddy: This leader will need to see the benefit of a careful balance of people and process, and to understand the price to be paid for not setting and maintaining clear performance standards. Naturally personable, this leader will experience more difficulty once they step outside their comfort zone to tackle more challenging leadership situations, such as performance management and difficult conversations. Challenge this leader to recall similar ‘difficult’ scenarios that they’ve successfully navigated, exploring what worked for them, what resources they used, the positive results attained, and how they can apply that experience directly to their current leadership role. 

Useful resources for Everyone’s Buddy:

How to Provide Feedback Without Insulting Your Workers.

Practical Tips for Managing Challenging Conversations

  1. Can’t Delegate

Usually a technical expert or self-sufficient achiever, this new leader finds it hard to let go of being the ‘senior do-er’ in favour of leading. For Can’t Delegate, others simply may not measure up to their high standards. It’s just so much more satisfying and quicker to get the job done themselves. In other words, they may be entrenched in the familiarities and feeling of competence from their previous role and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. If the team don’t feel trusted and supported to deliver on their expectations, they’ll likely become disempowered to step-up and perform.

How to coach Can’t Delegate: Help this leader to understand their role comes with an accountability to drive results through others which requires trust, empowerment and an eye on the longer term. Time invested in training the team on processes today is money in the bank for tomorrow. This will not only empower the team but deliver a reputation, not to mention a legacy, for the high standards that Can’t Delegate desires. Help them to explore the tangible business benefits of letting go and role model how recognition, appreciation and trust look and feel.

Useful Resources for Can’t Delegate:

20 Practical Time Management Tips

10 Skills Every Mentor Needs

  1. Big Boss

For the first time, Big Boss has got the word ‘Manager’ in their job title. Big Boss responds well to pressure and earned their spot by being a result-focused grafter. At this early stage, they may be unclear on the nuances that separate managers from leaders. The opposite of Everyone’s Buddy, Big Boss’s eagerness to achieve results for the business can feel overbearing and boorish, and for gentler team members, somewhat daunting, meaning that dips in performance are just as likely as smashed targets.

How to coach Big Boss: Help Big Boss to explore that winning need not come at all costs. Results-driven, with a genuine desire to improve the performance of the business, help this leader to establish self-awareness, understand their own archetype, the different personalities in their team and how best to relate to them, the potential consequences and impacts of  their actions and, ultimately, the positive results that come from a happy, motivated and productive team.

Useful resources for Big Boss:

Leadership Guide for First Time Managers

Recognising Leadership Blindspots

Why Successful Leaders Ask For Help

  1. Process Fanatic

Process Fanatic is motivated by structure and consistency. Living by a monthly checklist of management actions, meticulous reports, and a keen eye for a KPI, this leader places a focus on spreadsheets and processes, sometimes at the expense of engagement and personality. A natural counterweight to mavericks, their style of leadership risks dampening creativity and might just prove to be demotivating for colleagues who achieve solid results via their own preferred methods.

How to coach Process Fanatic:  Help Process Fanatic to recognise that harmony of process and people is key to accomplishing results through others.  Remember that facts and details are most compelling for them, and your patience will be key in supporting their development of key skills to engage, empower and enable people in the team.  The accountability in others that this fledgling leader demands will be forthcoming when they create a work environment that is built on trust and collaboration.

Useful resources for Process Fanatic:

The Soft Skills Revolution: The Rising Value of People Skills

How to Make Employee Engagement a Daily Priority