9 Things Team Members Want to Know About the New Boss, but Won’t Ask

by Jennifer Miller on January 28, 2013

in Leadership

Are you new to a leadership role? One of the most important things you must do is establish a rapport with your direct reports (or team members if it’s a project team). Bring your team members on board is #3 on my list of six key actions a newly appointed leader should take.

One way to do this is through simple, informal conversation; what I call the “meet and greets” that happen during those first few weeks of your new role. Maybe it’s the informal “hey, Jamal starts today, so let’s have coffee and donuts in the break room to welcome him.” Or perhaps your ultra-organized boss has already set up one-to-ones for you for the first week of your new job.

No matter what the get-to-know-you rituals, people are curious. The grapevine has been alive with information about you – some of it factual, some of it plain outlandish.  Your job is to set the record straight while getting to know your new team.

Many employees have questions that they’ll gladly ask. In my work with transitioning teams, I’ve found there are “safe” questions and then there are the “real” questions which they want answered. The key for you is to listen carefully – if you only answer the exact question being asked, you may not fully ease everyone’s concerns.  You are looking to build trust and assure them you are up to the task of leading the team.

Nine things people want to know about their new team leader


Safe Question

Real Question

“So, tell me a little bit about you . .   .”

“Is that crazy rumor about X really true?”

“What’s your management style?”

“Are you a micromanager?”

“What’s your background in [fill in   credentials]?”

“Do you think you’re smarter than me?”

“So, what was it about this job that   made you apply?”

“Is this a power play on your part?”

“What’s your plan for our team?”

“Are you a strategic thinker?”

“Do you know what you’re getting into?”

“Are you aware of our most pressing challenges?”

“What’s your position on X?”

“Our former team leader was a fanatic about X. Are you a fanatic too?”

“So, when [name of former manager] was   here, he/she let us do X. Will we be able to continue doing so?

“Are you hip to what’s really going on around here?”


These are the most common “real” questions that I’ve encountered. From your personal experience from being the new leader, what other key questions do team members want answered, but may hesitate to ask?


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