12 Top Challenges New Leaders Face And How To Master Them

Corinna Hagen
14 min readJan 2

Shawn was just promoted to his first leadership role. Now he’s facing a number of challenges as he’s trying to settle into his new role. Two of his team members are clashing heads on a critical project. Meanwhile, Shawn is trying to find the most effective management techniques and learning to delegate instead of doing everything himself. The transition to his first leadership role is bumpy and it is a common experience for new leaders.

What are the challenges of a first-time leader? During my time coaching emerging leaders, I have identified 12 common obstacles managers face when transitioning into leadership positions. The biggest hurdle for ICs (individual contributors) to people leaders is often the identity shift.

Instead of being in charge of your individual contribution, you are now in charge of leading others to produce the results you are responsible for. This seems daunting at first. Your ability to meet these challenges head-on will be essential for long-term success.

These challenges can become the foundation for leadership success as you learn to address each one. Here’s a set of practical ways to help you overcome these obstacles.

The 12 Most Common Challenges of Emerging Leaders

1. Driving Team Achievement.

Leading a team to success, as opposed to performing well individually, brings new challenges that all leaders must face. As a leader, it is no longer enough to excel in your own role: instead, you must also nurture team collaboration and motivate others to achieve the desired outcomes.

With employees of different backgrounds and interests, all working together with the common goal, you will need actively to manage your team dynamics — communicating expectations clearly and often, and ensuring that each individual understands their role.

Doing this requires patience, empathy, trust-building skills, and excellent communication skills. Ultimately, while it may be more difficult than leading solely as an individual contributor at first; getting used to directing a team of people can lead to bigger rewards for both you and your teammates.

2. Prioritizing…

Corinna Hagen

Founder of Zaradigm.com, an executive communication firm. I write about leadership and business communication 1 x month in the “Leading Choices” newsletter.