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Are you ready for a leadership role?

Posted on 06 October 2021

Are you ready for a leadership role?

7-minute read

 

After several years as an individual contributor, you will likely reach a fork in the road that offers the opportunity for one to step into a leadership position. This transition from contributor to leader impacts not only your career, but the careers of those around you as well as the company you will be working for.

All too often we hear of leaders stepping into these positions for increased perks, salaries and titles but these superficial decisions will be shortly replaced with the real work that comes with leadership, and if you are not fully prepared and aware of what that entails, you might be in for a shock.

The aim of this article is to not turn anyone off from becoming a leader or taking that step up, but to offer guidance during this important decision process, guidance that allows you to accept or decline that promotion/offer from a more informed decision.

To help us get you there, we will cover a few questions that you can ask yourself to help understand if the move into leadership is the right option for you today. We use the word today as things change over time, if the move is not right at this present moment you can always revisit this article and questions at a more appropriate time.

One thing to bear in mind, there is no point reading these questions without being completely honest with yourself when it comes to answering them, we say this as previously mentioned, a step into leadership is not just about your career but the careers of your subordinates as well as the success of the company you work for.

 

Do you truly understand how your responsibilities are going to change?

Moving away from individual contributor to leader, whether in your current company or a new will result in a change in your daily responsibilities. The biggest change, that is often overlooked is the added unforeseen tasks, which are mainly more administrative that result in you doing less of the work you love.

The leadership of a team offers opportunities for you to focus more on direction, strategy, team performance and the like but all these decisions rarely happen by yourself. This means an increase in meetings, reporting and internal politics. All of these tasks take you further away from the role you once enjoyed deeply and the further you climb the management ladder, the more of these types of tasks you will encounter.

To determine if this is something you are ready to take on, we suggest making a list of everything you enjoy about your current role (individual contributing position). Consider everything from the daily responsibilities, tasks, team, working hours etc.

Once you have outlined everything you enjoy, one by one, cross off what will no longer be part of your new job, if the list leaves you less excited, then it might not be the right time for you to make the move into leadership.

 

Do you know the gaps in your current knowledge base?

It will be very difficult to identify all the gaps in your knowledge today, as put simply, you don’t know what you don’t know. However, throughout your career you have been trained and upskilled in various professional areas, all of these learnings will have helped you develop an approach to your work which in many aspects can offer transferable skills to your new position.

Having a deep self-awareness of your current skills and skills you need to further develop will allow you to tackle a leadership role from a more informed perspective. You will be more receptive to personal development which will result in better outcomes for everyone (you, your team and the company).

However, how do you know what skills you actually need? We recommend reaching out to your network and speaking with those either in the company you intend to take this position in (if possible), or alternatively a leader you admire with whom you can have an open discussion with.

The idea of this open conversation is to understand what are the core skills required to be successful in this leadership opportunity. What traits have helped them overcome challenging situations and to have an honest review of your current skills, allowing you to see gaps from another’s perspective.

You won’t be a master at everything, otherwise, you would already be leading a team but you need to understand if you have the right baseline skills, and on top of this, are these skills you wish to further develop.

 

Are you aware of the bigger picture?

Holding a leading role within a company means your actions impact a much wider group of individuals. What you say, how you act and more importantly what you do will be watched and used against you in the future (it sucks but it’s true).

Therefore, are you aware of the larger organisation you are about to take a leadership role within? Are you aware of how teams are connected, what the workflow of the business looks like? How promotions and work is allocated around the business?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself, and right now you might not hold all the answers but we share them as you need to act on behalf of the business and you cannot do this without understanding the full picture.

If this type of work doesn’t excite you if you are not prepared to push yourself to understand the ins and outs of the organisation then maybe a leadership role is not right for you at this moment in time, this is by far one of the most important factors to consider when looking into leading roles.

 

Have you considered management styles?

There are formal management styles that can be learned (online or management training!) but before we get into the meat of that, for now just consider great leaders you have worked within the past.

What made them that way, why did they stand out?

We mention this as before taking a leading role, it is always best to understand what type of leader you want to be, what style works best for you and your personality. You can do a thought exercise before even leading a team by simply thinking back to difficult scenarios that have happened in your team over the years, then consider them from the perspective of the leader and more importantly, envision how you would have handled the situation.

For example, there might have been a dispute on the team about a deadline. You might have also been an advocate for the dispute as the contributor but now as the leader, how would you have handled the situation? Or maybe someone on the team requested a pay rise out of the allocated bands, how would you deal with that?

The scenarios can be whatever you wish them to be, but the idea is to really think about how would you handle them from the perspective of the leader and if again, this type of responsibility and pressure is what you really want to do.

 

Is this a stop off for you?

We mentioned in the introduction that we often hear individuals progressing into leading roles for the wrong reasons (salary, perks and title), therefore this last question is very simple.

Is this move into leadership a stop off for you to increase one of those superficial elements or is it a career move in which you genuinely want to help develop others and companies?

Salary, perks and titles will follow success, if you focus on these and make them the driver as to why you are stepping into leadership, then we would highly recommend focusing on the path of the individual contributor as you can still reach those elements and often without the headaches that come with leading people.

But, if you are truly driven by supporting others and helping companies grow, then it might indeed be time to grow yourself into a leading role.

 

Leading roles, management positions and individual contributors are all extremely important to the success of a company. The desire to change alter your career path towards leadership is individual to you, with this article we hope to provide some base questions to get you thinking about such transitions before you take them, saving you time in the long-run if it isn’t the right move today.

 

As always, we hope to bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment with these articles and if you feel someone else could benefit from the learns please share it with your network. ​

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