Brenda’s Blog

Build a strong relationship with a new leader

July 14, 2023

At all layers of an organization, when you start reporting to a leader you’ve not worked with before, it’s important to build a strong relationship right from the start.

Based on my experience, there are two critical keys to success in a boss-direct report relationship: trust and strong communication. So, I encourage coaching clients to engage in what I call an “R&R” conversation with their new boss, covering “Responsibilities and Relationship.” Discussing these will assure you and your boss are stronger together, as a team.

Here are a few questions to ask. What would you add to this list?


  • What specific responsibilities will I own and be accountable for?
  • What does success look like for me, in this role, by the end of 6 months/12 months? (Be sure to include both task/project/business-oriented responsibilities as well as what success looks like for your own professional development.)
  • How will success be measured?
  • What decisions are you aligned with me making independently, without needing to consult with you first? In other words, at what level is my limit of authority?
  • When do you – as my immediate superior – want to be included in decision-making and on what types of decisions


  • How often should we meet? What do you want those meetings to include – project updates, information about my own personal development, my team’s growth, all of the above?
  • How often do you want me to keep you up to date on what is going on for me/my team/my area of responsibility?
  • In general, what is the means of communication you most prefer: Phone? Email? Text message? Instant messaging? Are there any “off limits” times when I should not try to reach you?
  • If anything comes up that is urgent, how do you want me to let you know?
  • What is your pet peeve when it comes to workplace behavior?
  • Is there anything else I should know about you that will help make this a great, productive relationship from the start?

If any of your boss’s responses to questions don’t match what you were thinking, raise those points and be sure to turn this into a productive, two-way dialogue. In other words, share your own desired answers to these questions, too! Where are you aligned? Where are your points of view different? How will you address that?

The desired outcome is that both you and your new superior are aligned on your responsibilities and that parameters are clear around your new relationship.

What additional questions would you add to this list, in order to benefit from a great relationship with a new boss? What has worked for you to make the boss-direct report connection stronger?



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