Derby's new head coach watched from the stands until midway through the second half as goals from Chris Martin, Johnny Russell and Will Hughes capped an impressive attacking display that was too much for Leeds.
Martin and Russell struck in the space of three first-half minutes to deservedly put Derby on course for their first Sky Bet Championship home win of the season and although Jason Pearce headed in just before the break to give Leeds hope, Hughes settled it with another classy goal 12 minutes from the end.
It ended a week in which former manager Nigel Clough had been controversially sacked on a high note and left McClaren praising the character of his players who had come back from 4-1 down to draw with Ipswich on Tuesday night.
"For the character they have shown from Tuesday half-time onwards, the players deserve tremendous praise and credit," McClaren said.
"We do our work and prepare the team as best we can but the players have to perform and take responsibility and they did that in the second half on Tuesday and today.
"Staying upstairs gives me a better perspective on the game and I think that's important early when it's a new team, I'm trying to get a picture of this instead of seeing legs and bodies on the touchline and shouting when they can't hear me, or ignore me!
"I don't see the point and I get a better idea of this team upstairs and I think it helps me in the end make better decisions for the team. I think it was important to keep out the way and let the players do their job which is what they did.
"In the two games we have seen all our frailties and all our strengths, and there's a lot of work to do."
For Leeds manager Brian McDermott it was old failings which cost his team again against a club the Yorkshire outfit have not beaten since September 2005.
"You are disappointed when you lose the first goals which we have done too many times this season," he said.
"In the last two games we have let ourselves down away from home but before I turned up here I think we had 21 games away from home and won one.
"We need to get a mentality away from home where we are very difficult to play against and we weren't today. This has recurred too many times, giving away the first goal and it's something we need to look at.
"We played a lot of football today in the middle of the pitch but you are judged on what you do in both boxes and we weren't good enough in both boxes.
"We need a winning mentality. When I was at Reading two years ago when we hardly had any points on the board after 10 games and we just clicked into place and we worked on that.
"We've had that conversation in the dressing room today and talked about that mentality and it's not about hoping you will get a result, it's knowing you will get a result and that's where we have to get to."