Moving into leadership is not just about being the best at what you do. It requires having a whole new set of skills to effectively lead your team. Have you achieved long-term great results in your current position or built solid relationships with colleagues? Are you proud of this and feel ready to step up?
There are a number of signs and questions you could ask yourself to find out if the feeling is premature or the opposite. With a clear understanding of the position, you will have a better idea if the role is for you and if it is a good fit for your career.
Can you opt-out of the to-do list? Don’t get us wrong – it’s not that you shouldn’t have a list of defined specific things to check off. But in management, the day-to-day work is often much less oriented to what the employee does. The manager’s role is to create team spirit and motivation, not to do all the work. It’s crucial to be able to mainly oversee the project, keep track of how your team is moving with tasks and if there is synchronization in the process. You are the key figure on whom it depends to translate management goals into practical tasks. In other words, you’re willing to give up a bit of control. Sounds illogical? Technically being a manager gives you more responsibility and obligation to lead others. However, managing a team involves letting go of some control. That is, you have to trust that your direct reports are doing things right, even when you can’t oversee every little detail.
Can you be responsible for the team’s performance? It’s pretty scary being responsible for an entire team. The leader has to fix the situation when it goes wrong. And the solution won’t be to just repeat the criticism of the person on the team who got it wrong. You have to be able to monitor the way you and the whole team are doing things with a critical eye and figure out how you can improve. Managers need to provide resources for other people and be able to solve cases, not just “pull the ears” of colleagues who have made a mess. The key here is the ability to communicate effectively, to understand the capabilities of each person on the team, their potential and their shortcomings.
Can you respond to challenging situations? When you’re a team member, it’s easier – you rely on your manager to help you make decisions and determine the best way forward in difficult situations. And when you’re a manager, you’ll have to do just that for your people. When a longtime problem customer threatens to leave the company again, how will you respond? You may have to have some tough conversations with members of your own team. What happens when a previously successful employee starts to rrepeatedly fail? How long will you give the employee an opportunity to make amends while you take the difficult decision to let them go? You need an in-depth look at your people and their activities.
Can you stand behind your team in every way? Employees will come to you with all sorts of topics, from illness and divorce to pregnancies and marriages. And while these things may not seem work-related, anything that affects the lives of the people on the team will ultimately affect how they do their jobs – and how you do yours. You need to prepare to respond appropriately on a personal level as well. Managers see far beyond their own role and even their own team or department and consider the organization as a whole when performing tasks and mentoring employees. To effectively communicate expectations to people and manage their performance and success, you must have a solid understanding of the organization’s broader business goals and, most importantly, how your department contributes to the overall growth and success of the company.
Are you open to consultations? Anyone in a leadership position will attest to the value of knowing when to ask for help. The best managers are aware that they don’t know everything and are open and eager to seek out great ideas wherever they come. Managers don’t just offer solutions and ideas. They listen, ask questions and value the input of others. If you think you’re the only person who can solve a problem or the only one with unique ideas, you probably need to work more on your own perceptions.
Quite logically, after the above question comes: can you invest in other people’s success as much as in your own? If one of your team members fails, you fail. If someone succeeds, you succeed. The most effective leaders are highly intrigued by the growth of others. Jealousy and fear that someone might take your place are not leadership feelings. Particularly if they are associated with deliberately undermining someone’s self-esteem or intentionally stopping their projects. It is crucial to behold the potential and give way to its realization.
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