Kirill Yurovskiy: How to Lead a Team Without Experience

Even without prior leadership experience, you can learn how to effectively guide and motivate a team. Leading a team is about drawing on your emotional intelligence, communication abilities and vision – skills that anyone can develop. Follow these 10 tips to lead your team successfully as a first-time manager.

  1. Assess Your Soft Skills

The foundation of good leadership is self-awareness. Before managing others, reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to soft skills like communication, empathy, patience and problem-solving. Which abilities come naturally, and which do you need to improve? For example, if public speaking makes you nervous, commit to volunteering for more presentations to build confidence. If you tend to be very blunt in discussion, work on speaking more sensitively and reading people’s reactions. Investing in soft skills will make you a more relatable, compassionate leader.

  1. Build Trust and Respect

For a team to truly respect and commit to a leader’s vision, they need to trust that person first. Especially as a new manager, you’ll have to actively build credibility through openness, honesty and reliability. Admit when you simply don’t have all the answers yet, but also follow through reliably on expectations you set. Make it clear through words and actions that you respect team members’ time and expertise. Trust is earned gradually through small gestures, not grandiose declarations, so stay humble, authentic and consistent.  

  1. Set a Clear Vision

As the team leader, it’s up to you to set the tone and direction. After listening to input from team members, craft an inspirational yet realistic vision – where do you want the team or project to be 6 months or a year from now? Which key goals and metrics of success can you identify? Then communicate that vision clearly, passionately and frequently using vivid language that motivates. Weave the “why” behind goals into your messaging – connect to wider organizational priorities as well as to your team members’ intrinsic motivations. Setting, articulating and reminding people of the vision gives teamwork meaning and helps achieve alignment. 

  1. Foster Open Communication

Healthy communication ensures transparency around plans and expectations while making people feel psychologically safe to voice questions and concerns. Especially if you lack experience, solicit input frequently in 1-on-1s or small group discussions. Ask thoughtful questions, actively listen, and encourage people to challenge assumptions. When giving feedback, stay kind and constructive. Have a regular cadence for team meetings, varying the focus between project updates, performance reviews, strategy planning etc. Most importantly, keep communication consistent across verbal discussions, email, documentation and tooling. Mixed messages from a leader severely undermine morale and progress. Visit to find more information about this.

  1. Empower Team Members

Once you’ve communicated responsibilities and expectations clearly, avoid micromanaging. Give capable team members agency and latitude to drive tasks themselves. Outline the end goal but allow self-direction around how to get there. Empowerment fuels job satisfaction, innovation and accelerated growth. That said, some team members will desire closer guidance. Discern each person’s working style and customize the level of autonomy you provide. Offer mentorship but resist simply providing the “right answers”. Instead ask probing questions so people can arrive at solutions themselves. Determine what additional resources or training might need to be available. Empowerment means moving from “telling” team members what to do, to developing them.

  1. Lead by Example

Your own behaviors as team leader set the tone and culture. If you expect people to be transparent in communication, you need to do the same. If you expect commitment and drive, showcase that motivation yourself. Articulate standards and best practices yourself for schedule management, meeting etiquette etc. Roll up your own sleeves to handle grunt work and understand how various roles contribute. Consistently act with integrity and concern for the team over your own ego. Besides setting expectations, your daily example gives team members permission to fully buy into values and ways of working. Leading by example also means admitting mistakes rather than blaming others. Take accountability seriously to build loyalty and engagement.  

  1. Seek Feedback and Input

While you’re empowering your team members, empower yourself to keep improving through their input. Create safe spaces for both upward feedback (on management behaviors) and input regarding existing processes or proposed changes. You may feel insecure asking the people you lead for criticism but suppress the ego; enabling helpful criticism ultimately takes confidence as it shows you genuinely care about being a better leader. Distribute anonymous surveys to solicit candid thoughts. Also actively listen during casual one-on-one conversations for improvement areas. Seek diverse perspectives across roles and backgrounds to circumvent blind spots. Input can reveal smarter solutions and workflows you would have never considered on your own, while constructive criticism makes you more self aware.  

  1. Admit When You’re Unsure

Experienced leaders exude confidence and decisiveness in their communication, driving certainty down through the ranks. But as a novice manager you won’t actually have all the answers in ambiguous situations. The solution isn’t faking certainty or making premature decisions before gathering enough information. Be honest when you simply don’t know something yet or want more context before deciding. Admitting uncertainty can humanize you with the team and stimulate additional insights from others. Paired with follow through to get clarity, not having all the answers need not undermine credibility; in fact authenticity and inclusiveness ultimately inspire greater dedication.caveat  Don’t make a habit of relying too heavily on others without seeking information independently.

  1. Continue Learning and Developing

Leadership capabilities can always be expanded, especially early on when everything feels new and daunting. Commit to continuously upgrading your skills through some combination of courses/seminars, executive coaching, books/podcasts and hands-on application. Develop self awareness of strengths and weaknesses. Seek out training opportunities specific to challenges like influencing without authority, resolving conflict and building emotional intelligence. Find a more seasoned mentor or informal peer support network to provide guidance when you misstep. Reflect on both mistakes and wins to crystallize learnings. The journey to great leadership is lifelong so take advantage early and often of structured learning together with lessons that emerge from real work experiences.  

  1. Celebrate Wins and Learn From Mistakes

Uplift team morale by highlighting and celebrating collective and individual wins, no matter how small. Wins breed motivation through a sense of progress and competency. Public recognition including rewards or shout outs during meetings makes people feel valued, encouraging behaviors and efforts you want to cultivate. Just be specific on exactly what accomplishments merit praise. In contrast, individually and collectively discussing mistakes and failures in a blameless environment enables learning. Reflect openly without getting defensive, and mine setbacks for development areas going forward rather than just criticism after the fact. Over time this builds psychological safety for taking smart risks that advance innovation. By balancing celebration of wins with learning from losses, even an inexperienced leader can drive high performance.

In Summary

Leading well starts from within; assess your people skills and lead by example. Set a compelling vision and foster transparent communication. Support people’s autonomous mastery while seeking their honest feedback on how you can improve. Admit uncertainty and continue actively developing your capabilities over time. With authenticity, trust building and a learning mindset, even novice managers can effectively motivate teams. Prior management experience helps but is not a pre-requisite with the right mindset and behaviors.

Related Articles

Back to top button