How I prepared for the role of team leader

The year 2024 has started with a major career change (or better said life change): I am now the Lead Sales Engineer for Europe at Cognigy. Accordingly, I now have great responsibility and new tasks to solve. Fortunately, this change didn’t come out of nowhere, but was planned and prepared extensively long beforehand. In this article, I would like to share my own personal process of preparation with you, as I have discovered a lot about myself over the last twelve months. Enjoy reading 🙂.

You might think that the promotion to team leader is a logical conclusion of a certain amount of time spent with the employer. First you are hired as a junior, then at some point you give up this prefix and with the first white hairs you get the senior title, and so on… Maybe somewhere, but not at a company like Cognigy. With every promotion, the tasks change drastically, which is clear on the one hand, but has to fit in with your own ideas and goals in life. Not everyone has to become a team leader at some point, to be honest. It's a job that challenges you as a person and also shapes your life to a certain extent. I became more and more aware of this during my preparation, jumping from book to book and certificate to certificate.

So I first asked myself the question, who do I actually want to be? This question isn’t so trivial, because how am I supposed to lead a team into a successful future if I’m not even aware of myself? Think about it. To answer this question, I have given it a lot of thought; and I mean a lot. However, I have also read some popular books in this area. Starting with „The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“ and „The 5 AM Club“, to get to know the more intense version of self-optimization. Moreover, „The Storyteller“ and „What we believe, who we are“ were really interesting and revealing books. As Dave Grohl is one of my heroes as a musician, I enjoyed and devoured every word of his book. How he has managed to produce creative masterpieces with the Foo Fighters for decades, present them at concerts all over the world and still have a happy family with children never ceases to amaze me. The book from „psychotherapist Nesibe Özdemir tells how it changes people when they recognize and question deeply rooted beliefs. […] The book not only shows how obstructive and sometimes destructive negative beliefs can be, but also helps people to dissolve them and strengthen their faith in themselves (Kabitzsch, 2022)“. With this foundation in place, I created my own statements of faith and realized who I wanted to be.

Now I was ready for the question of why I actually wanted to become a team leader. After I told a good friend about this, he recommended the book „Start with Why“ by Simon Sink. It really fitted my current situation like a glove and helped me indescribably with answering this question. It was particularly important from the outset that I didn’t take on this role for any status reasons, but to enable the team to do what I have been able to do over the last few years and to provide them with the support and freedom they need. As a conclusion, I have answered a list of follow-up questions for myself:

  1. At what moment did I realize that I wanted to be come a leader?
  2. What excites me about being a leader?
  3. What am I looking forward to accomplishing the most in this role?
  4. What past lessons or mistakes will I carry with me?

As soon as I found out these answers, I could continue with two topics that Chelsea Jay talks about in her helpful course called „Skills for Your First 90 Days as a New Manager“:

  1. What legacy do I want to leave as a leader?
  2. How can I continue to improve myself as leader?

Especially the first question builds the roots for all further actions I will take in the next months. As I’m aware of who I want to be from a personal perspective, I now have to ask myself the following:

  1. What characteristics do I want the team to use to describe me?
  2. What do I want my team to say about the decisions I made as a leader?
  3. What do I want my team to remember about my communication style?
  4. At the end of the day, what type of impact do I want to make?

The second question (How can I continue to improve myself as leader?) was something I already thought of right from the beginning of this story as I’m a big fan of continuous improvement. Indeed, yet another book was extremely helpful in this case. Ryan Hawk wrote the wonderful peace called „Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader“ that I already read in December 2022. He talks about all the pit holes and mistakes one could potentially make, especially in the first weeks. But, more delighting are the countless advices and experiences he shares with this readers. Thank you for this, Ryan! Today, I still follow his newsletter because, as we all know, you never stop learning.

Well, honestly I more and more feel that I not only prepared for this over the last twelve months, but for several years already. I was formed and trained by various leaders since I started as a working student at Acando back then. Now, it’s up to me to give it back to those people who I call „my team“. You know and I know that you’re never full ready, that you cannot prepare 100% and get rid of all possible pit holes before you really dived deep into the ocean called daily business. However, I did my part and will do my best.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get this party started!

Alex reading a book in palermo

That's me on December 29 2022, sitting on a balcony in Palermo, Italy, finishing the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey.


  1. Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader (Read)
  2. Mastering Technical Sales: The Sales Engineer’s Handbook, Third Edition (Read)
  3. Die Welt geht unter, und ich muss trotzdem arbeiten? (Read)
  4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Read)
  5. How to Win Friends and Influence People: Updated For the Next Generation of Leaders (Read)


  1. Skills for Your First 90 Days as a New Manager (Watch)
  2. Strategic Thinking (Watch)
  3. Communicating Nonverbally (Watch)
  4. Communicating with Confidence (Watch)