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ATD Blog

Build Your First-Time Manager Skills With the Ultimate Book

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Do you view life as a series of dangerous hazards to avoid or as challenges to embrace? Life is a series of crises to overcome, but your approach makes a major difference to your success as a first-time manager.

How Do You Start Building Your Skills as a First-Time Manager?

In his book, The First-Time Manager: Leading Through Crisis, Paul Falcone, an expert in management and leadership training, takes the idea of embracing challenges one step further. Through practical examples, guides, and case studies, Falcone teaches you to transform crises into “developing events.”

With Falcone’s advice for first-time managers, you’ll build your confidence by getting ahead of problems. You’ll also appreciate how to leverage your network and gain an arsenal of tools and resources.

One of the Best Books for First-Time Managers

What makes becoming a first-time manager so challenging? You know how to get results, but the challenge is that you can no longer just focus on yourself. As a manager, you must focus on others.

Generally, first-time manager tips are all about shifting from doing everything yourself to working through others. In other words, you’re transitioning from a “me” to “we” mindset.


Even the most seasoned manager had to go through this learning curve, usually with a supportive network.

You can boost that learning curve with one of the best books for first-time managers. Paul Falcone’s book doesn’t just explain the “what” of the crises you’ll face. It also details the “how” in these three discrete sections:

1. Facing Your First Problematic Individuals
Falcone covers everything from dealing with toxic “rainmakers” and complaining under-performers to sharing bad news with your boss.

One of the key first-time manager mistakes is to overcompensate with sugar-coating bad news. Alternatively, performance reviews are too “nice” and can quickly descend into shock and denial.

  • Instead of fearing terminations, performance reviews, and layoffs, partner with HR as early as possible. The more you follow a clear process, the fewer surprises you’ll face.
  • Be human and offer support to those you terminate. It’s already a highly vulnerable experience for people, but just because it didn’t work out with you doesn’t mean they won’t find fulfillment somewhere else.
  • Review the language in the letter in the case study of the layoffs described in the book to formulate your own calm and compassionate approach.

2. Motivating and Aligning Teams
Another big first-time manager mistake is assuming that you can keep doing what you’ve been doing all this time. The truth is, your habits need to change so that your focal point is your team.

  • Instead of feeling stuck when leading a team of people with different working styles, over-communicate and talk through those different styles together.
  • Nurture a motivating and safe environment while mediating through any conflict.
  • As a first-time manager, don’t be afraid to state the “elephant in the room” with openness and without judgment.

3. Navigating Organizational Culture
Global and social events are out of our control. Company culture can also be something we are subjected to. The most agile leaders are those who can be true to themselves while still adapting to how those around them get engaged.

  • Focus on developing great people around you and never forget personal appreciation.

You Too Can Build Your Crisis Management Teams

Falcone’s goldmine of advice for first-time managers equips you for all those crises that take you away from adding value to your teams and the business. Whether you need templates, process steps, or contingency plans, The First-Time Manager has you covered.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of working on yourself. Get to know your emotions and use them to become more authentic and grounded. With less reactivity and acceptance of change and uncertainty, you’ll become a wiser leader, bound for greater success.

Watch Falcone’s free webinar and discover this goldmine for yourself. You’ll experience the energy and wisdom of a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder certified coach, with decades of HR experience, demonstrating how to effectively manage team dynamics.

About the Author

Anne Duvaux is a neuroscience leadership coach who was previously HR director focusing on leadership and development as well as coaching. In a past lifetime she was a chartered engineer and is also multilingual having lived in 9 countries and 13 cities. As an Associate Certified Coach with the ICF and almost 25 years’ experience setting up, partnering and leading teams across Europe and Asia in both corporates and early-stage companies, Anne understands how to navigate the challenges of leadership. Today, as a writer and avid reader, she continues to support people around the world with the wisdom of generations of books.

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