How to transition into a leadership role

Wondering how to become a manager for the first time? Here are our top tips to stay a step ahead of the learning curve.

Friday 19th August

Stepping into your first management or leadership position is a significant and daunting achievement. There is no singular, correct approach to learning how to be a manager, but the reality is that it’s a journey where you develop new skills and grow as an individual and professional, and everyone goes through a similar rite of passage as they take this next step.

Whether you’re already a new manager or considering applying for a management role, our tips will help you stay a step ahead of the learning curve.

Friday 19th August

Postgraduate business students

#1: Prepare yourself to lead 

If you have ever wondered why new leaders fail, it's because they often jump into it without doing the legwork. Avoid that mistake by reaching out to mentors, friends and people in your professional networks, such as the official RMIT Alumni LinkedIn group, who may have already made this transition, and pick their brains to start building the fundamentals of your own leadership style. Here are a few good topics to help you get started:  

  • How did you define your work relationships with people who are now reporting to you? 
  • How do you approach conflict resolution within your team? 
  • How do you give feedback in an inspiring, rather than discouraging, manner? 
  • What advice would you give on building a strategic leadership mindset? 

#2: Build critical leadership skills 

As you learn from the experience of fellow alumni and mentors, you may realise that beyond industry-specific skills, a lot of leadership involves soft skills such as critical thinking and people management. While soft skills can be learned on the job, you can absolutely ensure you gain them before stepping into the role.  

As an RMIT alum, you can gain crucial soft skills by utilising our graduate support programs and services. 

  • Book a one-on-one appointment with a career consultant to figure out how to reach a management role. 
  • Visit the Job Shop and get the advice, preparation and support you need to kickstart your journey to becoming a manager. 
  • Discover RMIT’s Future Skills short courses that will help you gain the soft and technical skills you need for management. The courses are run fully online, and all RMIT alumni receive 15% off! 

#3: Build trust with your team 

Don’t underestimate the capabilities of a team that trusts and relies on each other. You can foster trust by respecting your team, their thoughts, their voices and most importantly, their skills and experience. 

#4: Explore multiple leadership styles 

Early on in your new position, you may find yourself gravitating towards one style of leadership. Whether you prefer leading from the front or find it easier to be a more democratic leader, it’s important not to limit yourself to that one style in the beginning. Leaders who adopt multiple styles of management find themselves to be more successful and effective in the long run. 

Remember that a great leader leads each team member in the style that brings out the best in them - one size does not fit all when it comes to leadership. 

#5: Embrace your mistakes 

While you may feel the pressure of being “perfect” at the new role immediately, remember that you are just human. You have only just learned how to be a manager, so it's natural that you will make mistakes. Acknowledge them, learn from them, and grow.  

Do you remember how long it took you to ride a bicycle? Or drive a car? Just as it took a while in those cases, no one expects you to know every tip on how to be a manager from day one.  

Remind yourself that this is a process - while you can prepare yourself for success, transitioning into a leadership role and then actually becoming a great leader is a lifelong journey of learning. 


Story: Hassaan Ahmed

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.