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A leading question

See yourself as a leader?

At this time of year, thoughts often turn to self improvement and ways of advancing your career. And if you are set to take on a new management job - at whatever level - getting it right from the start is essential.

Here is NCE 's list of the essential do's and don'ts for rookie managers.

Do not try and be visionary and charismatic from day one.

'Often, going in there determined to do something memorable right away is the worst thing to do, ' says training consultant Judi James. 'Lie low for a while, get to know the organisation and let people get used to you.'

Do start making allies straight away. You may not be entering a political minefield as perilous as that faced by George W Bush, but there will be some similarities. Politics is rife in any organsation, so 'walk the talk'; make yourself available to junior staff and avoid rushing from meeting to meeting looking busy and important. And avoid the trap of emailing everyone to avoid human contact - there is no substitute for eyeball to eyeball contact.

Do not rush in. Trust your own gut feelings. Take a leaf out of Sven Goran Eriksson's book and do not make any radical changes before you really know what you are doing. Having arrived in the UK in a whirlwind of publicity, Eriksson is now treading carefully before reorganising the England team. And just as he is planning to study premier league games, so you need to watch your team working on site or interacting with other people, to find out as much as you can about them.

Do not assume that no one had a good idea until you arrived.

James points out that most brilliant new ideas go round in a loop. Anyone who has been in a post for a while will have heard it all before - probably about two years previously.

Do keep your nerve. Perhaps what a new leader needs more than anything on day one is courage - and plenty of it. If you have what it takes, then you will take stress and risk in your stride. And remember, no matter how bad it gets, yours is an easier job than George's or Sven's.

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