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Survive and Thrive in Your First Leadership Job

By Tacy Byham, Ph.D.

Tacy Byham My co-author, Rich Wellins and I wrote Your First Leadership Job because of one simple truth—leadership matters. And catalyst leaders represent the gold standard of leadership. They are energetic, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in others. But, becoming a catalyst leader is hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Your First Leadership JobI learned the concept of catalyst leadership from DDI early in my career, and this book will help you learn it too. You’ll find out how catalysts can ignite a flame in others, gain their commitment, and drive productivity. Now, I’ve never met a perfect supervisor. I’ve never been one. Leadership takes work. But, the upside is tremendous—helping people achieve their goals and dreams.

So, whether you are newly promoted, want to hit the reset button on your career, recently elected to project lead and want tips for success, or you are aspiring to be a future leader–we want to help. And, we’re not alone; Rich and I crowd-sourced more than six dozen leaders. We include their leadership lessons—their own struggles and their advice for helping you thrive and not stall in your career.

Our book is practical. It’s not philosophy. It’s not guess-work.  It’s not conceptual. Instead, it’s in the trenches, time-tested tools that you can grab, absorb and put into action, including:

  • Maintaining your leadership focus 
  • Having that first expectation-setting conversation with your new manager
  • Managing a difficult employee

It’s like a cookbook for becoming a better leader full of time-tested recipes. We use this analogy purposely because we believe that leadership is a lot like cooking. In order to become a master, it takes practice. You need to learn the basic, foundational skills—like measurement and knife techniques—and once those are mastered, then you dig into a variety of recipes to create different menus.

And like a good recipe, we hope you share this book with other future leaders. These include people you know:

  • Your neighbor who just got promoted and is now managing an entire team
  • The community leader who’s struggling to find their footing as a committee chair
  • Your friend who moved to a new company and into a new role to move forward in his/her career
  • Your daughter who just graduated from university and is finding her way into the workforce

So, whether you are concentrating on making the perfect cookie or Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon, you will undoubtedly burn a few things and make mistakes. But, these experiences will help you learn; and next time, that soufflé won’t fall.

Visit for more information on the book and for a variety of rich resources, bonus chapters, and research. This is also the first in a series of blogs focusing on becoming a first-time leader. Check back soon for the next installment.

Tacy Byham, Ph.D. is DDI's Senior Vice President.

Posted: 11 May, 2015,
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