Feeling Out Of Your Depth With New Colleagues?

Out Of depth

Clients come to work with me for a few reasons and in a range of situations. Some of them may be looking to make a move into a first promoted post. Often they are new to a leadership role and it may be their first one.  In other cases, they may have been a leader for a while and they’d like to step up even further and move into the next senior position.

They come to me because they want to learn how to excel at their role – and feel relaxed, confident, comfortable and happy, leading. 

A common issue for new – and not so new – leaders is a feeling of being out of their depth and slightly intimidated by some of their new colleagues. This typically occurs when a leader is thrust into situations where they are in the company of colleagues who at one point they may have regarded as being much more senior and ‘out of reach’. They’re now expected to build working relationships with members of the senior leadership team, the exec, the trustees or the board.

This can feel uncomfortable and can sometimes prompt feelings of self-doubt, intimidation, of not being good enough and the Imposter Syndrome may rear it’s unhelpful and debilitating head.

One way to overcome these feelings is by understanding that all organisations ultimately run on relationships. While a leader’s new colleagues may prompt feelings of terror for some, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that those fear-inducing co-workers are human beings with home lives, families, hobbies, interests, challenges to face, and the highs and lows of every day routines, just like the rest of us.

Building relationships with your new colleagues can be one way to help manage that feeling of overwhelm and being out of your depth. Once you get to know them as people, it can take away that mystique and rob them of the imagined power they hold over you.

Find out what they’re interested in outside work, what family they have, what their passions are and what life is like for them outside the board room and the suit they wear.

How to do this? Arrive early for any meetings and be available to chat. Invite them for coffee. Make small talk as you gather your things to leave. Invite them for a virtual Skype coffee if you’re part of a remote team. Ask them some questions about themselves – show an interest in the person, not just the role. It takes time, so persevere and don’t rush things.

Knowing that your Regional Team Leader enjoys cooking and faces the challenges of bringing up teenagers or having elderly parents, just like you, can help you to see them in a completely different light.

And do you know what? Maybe you’re the first person in a long while that’s shown that kind of interest in them –  just imagine what impact that might have.

Building great relationships and becoming confident are two key components of having leadership presence – that ‘x-factor’ that helps us to feel significant, get our voice heard and effect change as leaders.

You simply can’t lead without it.

If you’d like to learn how to excel in your role, whether you’re a leader yet or aspiring to be one, then 5 Steps To Developing Your Leadership Presence will help you to become a confident, happy and influential leader.


I’m Susan Ritchie and I help new and emerging female leaders to develop their leadership presence, so they can create the right impact, be visible and become more influential. You can become a happy leader with confidence and authority. The First Move 1:1 Coaching Programme may interest you.