Have you reached a point in your career when you’re looking for new challenges? Are you wondering whether you’ve got the necessary leadership qualities for a management role? Would you like to take your career to the next level? A role in management can be very demanding. As well as meeting deadlines and pumping out your own work, you’ll need to be able to delegate to others and keep your team motivated. You need to be able to guide, reward and discipline at an appropriate level.
You’ve got plenty of year’s experience under your belt. You’ve sweated, done your time, enjoyed the highs and lows and now you think you’re ready to move up into a leadership position. Unfortunately, past performance is not a reliable indicator of your future success in management. Before you take the plunge, here are some things you need to bear in mind.
Do You Possess the Right Personality Traits?
Qualification and experience are important for a management role, but there are also certain personality traits you need to possess or be prepared to work on.
- An Ability to Listen Well – if your idea of a management role is simply barking out orders for others to follow you’re misinformed. It might work in the army, but in the world of business, you need to be able to give clear direction, but also listen in equal measure. You’ll need to be aware of schedules, issues, and pay attention to team dynamics.
- Able to Live with Ambiguity – to be a successful manager, you have to learn to trust your employees. Trying to keep track of what they’re doing 24/7 only leads to stress and anxiety. Make sure they’re trained well, have clear instructions and the appropriate resources and you should be able to leave them to get on with their tasks.
- A Desire to Help Others – to be a successful manager, you have to have a team that performs well. For them to perform well, you need to be able to help them grow and provide opportunities for them to stretch themselves.
- Take Criticism on the Chin – you need to be prepared to accept criticism from your team, other managers and your boss. Just because you’re in a management position doesn’t mean you won’t have to listen to their feedback, even if it’s negative. Take it on the chin because they might be making a valid point.
- Great People Skills – people skills that are vital for management include an ability to be persuasive, inviting honest feedback, encouraging conflict resolution, being patient, and promoting collaboration. You were introduced to these people skills from an early age, so now’s the time to put them to good use.
- Sense of Duty – as a manager, you will owe your employees a duty of care. It is something that comes naturally to a parent, and military commanders have it instilled in them from the early stages of their career. It’s not an instinct that comes naturally to everyone, but you owe it to your team to develop it. If you want to generate loyalty and keep your team motivated, there’s really nothing better.
- Ability to Play the Office Politics Game – every day in the workplace there are low-level battles going on. As a manager, you can’t ignore them and have to be prepared to wade in and sort them out. That doesn’t mean you have to take pleasure in these disagreements, but you do need to be able to play the office politics game effectively.
If you think you can tick all these boxes, it’s time to take the necessary steps to move up the corporate ladder. Here’s what you need to do.
Let it be Known You Want to Grow
Don’t assume that it’s obvious you’re ready to take the leap into management. If you want something, you have to be prepared to let your boss know. It’s no guarantee that it will happen, but if they don’t know you’re willing to take your career to the next level, you may find yourself missing out on the chance.
Be open to your own manager about your ambitions and have open and honest conversations about your performance and your path. If you’re serious about moving into a management role, your communication about your performance, strengths and areas for growth as well as your aspirations should be clear and consistent.
Demonstrate Results to the Right People
Being able to demonstrate your business results is important, but you also need to make sure the results are being demonstrated to the right people. There are decision-makers in your company that you need to impress, so do your research and find out who they are. There may be an organizational chart you can refer to. If not, you need to ascertain who your manager reports to and what they expect of you and your team. Don’t rely on the persuasive abilities of your direct manager. Go out of your way to make yourself known by chatting with leadership at department outings or copying them into emails announcing major accomplishments.
Be a Problem Solver
A born leader is not someone who waits to be told what to do. They will have the ability to be a strategic thinker and know what needs to be done without waiting to be told. The next time there’s an issue that needs solving don’t report it and wait for a solution. Work out what needs to be done and tell them how you’re going to fix it. You can also think about your daily routine and whether there are aspects that can be improved. If you can think of ways to make your job more efficient, test them out and then present them to your manager. Not only will you be making life easier for yourself, but you’ll also be showing that you’re ready to improve the entire department’s operations.
Be Viewed as a Team Leader
If you want to show your manager or boss that you’re ready to take on the responsibility of leadership you need to look for opportunities to manage people or projects. If you want to be considered for these opportunities, you have to make it know that you’re up for the challenge. To start with, you should consider speaking to your boss and asking whether there are any managerial tasks you can help them with. Offer to lead meetings, oversee small project teams, train new employees or take on a summer intern. They’re bound to be planning a vacation at some point in the near future, so check whether you can step in during that time.
There are other less formal ways you can show your willingness and competent leadership skills. Organize a company team building day, corporate event or volunteer with your co-workers at a community event. Why not try to introduce a bring your pet to work or bring your own device to work day?
Working on your management skills is also important as is gaining the right qualifications. For example, if you want to further your nursing career, a masters in nursing leadership would be a suitable qualification to aim for.
Have a Holistic View of the Company
To be an effective manager, you need to be able to look at the company from all angles. Making sure you’ve got the right information means you’re better equipped to make the best decisions and develop the right strategies to move your department forward.
Spend time researching the company and learn as much as you possibly can. A good place to start is by looking at the company as if you were a complete outsider. Spend some time reading the company website and get a feel for its current vision and goals. Find a copy of the most recent report and understand where the company is at present. Look for press releases that might have been issued and these will give you an idea of the company operations, strategies, and challenges.
Once you’ve got a handle on the basics you can move on to gain a better understanding of the internal workings of the company. If there are areas you know very little about, talk to the people in that department and possibly ask if you can shadow them for a day. All of this is important because you’re showing your boss that you’re interested in more than your own work. It’s also going to help you understand how the company works and be able to contribute to its success.
Be a Professional
One last tip is to be professional in everything you do. If you want to move to the next level, you have to be exemplary at what you do now. Make sure you meet deadlines, answer emails, you’re on time and courteous to other employees. Don’t partake in office gossip and work on getting a reputation for being someone that can be trusted. Approach your everyday tasks with a positive attitude and be someone that can be counted on.
If you’re able to demonstrate all the above, you’re already on the right track to moving up.