Struggle for Professional Identity

 I have been hired as a software-engineer team leader for a group, most of them older White men. I expect challenges to my authority because of my youth, race and gender. Can you recommend strategies to help me take charge and manage them so that the team delivers results? — Anonymous

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Always start a new opportunity with a positive spirit, an open mind, and open ears. Early on, have individual meetings with each team member so you can learn as much as possible about them and the day to day operation. Ask a LOT of questions. Also meet with your manager to get an understanding of his or her expectations for the group. Plan to listen before you start taking charge. For the first few weeks, observe your team’s work productivity, their interactions, and process communication patterns. Once you held your individual meetings completed you diagnose and met with your manager, develop a personal strategy with the team, seeking their input and revising goals where necessary. Show that you are committed, enthusiastic, and will listen and be flexible. When authority issues arise, do not personalize them; document the issue, and address the issues one by one.

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