Are you ready for a change? Your answers to these questions will help you decide if a leadership role is your next move.
It seems like an obvious choice to accept a management or leadership role as the next stage in your career growth. We have been conditioned to think that moving up the organization hierarchy is a sure path to success. Before you step on that next rung in the ladder, contemplate on these questions to help you decide and prepare for the upgrade – in pay, responsibilities, hours, and most importantly the fulfillment you feel in your new position.
1. Why do you want a leadership job?
This is the most important question and many people are not honest with themselves when pondering on their answer. People who experience dissatisfaction after the newness and shine of their new position wears off admit the following as reasons why they took the job in the first place:
I get a raise – bigger paycheck
I have tenure, I've been in my current job long enough – it’s time to get promoted
The title of the job gives me prestige
I obtain new perks like traveling, a corporate card, more vacation time
I want the power to tell people what to do
Leadership is not easy, but it can give you meaningful purpose if you go into it for the right reasons. Let's explore those...
“Leadership is not a title, it is a behavior.”
2. Do you have a passion for teaching and coaching others?
Effective leaders are generous with their knowledge. They motivate and encourage people to grow, especially after mistakes happen. Good leaders are crucial in times of change because they demonstrate and coach the team in the art of adapting while staying focused on delivering the results. I've had people tell me they want to become a leader because they like working with people. It's important to understand on a deeper level the reality of what that means. Leadership is the business of people: guiding, sharing, confronting, partnering. People carry baggage which includes insecurities, fears, entitlements and struggles in their home life too. They are also skilled, driven, knowledgeable, and many are eager to do a job well done. As a leader and coach, you have a responsibility to know, utilize and encourage their strengths and give them the freedom to fulfill their purpose; while serving as their trainer to develop muscles in areas of weakness. If you do not have the fortitude to teach, coach, and guide others, it's not a good time to take a leadership job.
3. Do you have a knack for painting the big picture?
For new leaders, I'm talking about connecting the dots and giving your team aha-moments and "oh, I get it now" twinkle in their eyes. Leaders are the glue that takes fragments of information and pull it all together so the team gets a clear picture of what the goal or destination is. Having this clarity promotes the team to generate ideas to solve problems and achieve great results. It also gives them a sense of ownership. If you are good at understanding a problem, exploring viable options using your knowledge plus other people's input, and incorporating them in a way so everyone comprehends the big picture...then you possess one of the most important skills needed to be a good leader. Having a knack for painting the big picture is a good base to later expand on when it's time to create and carry out a broader vision for the organization.
4. How well do you communicate?
Leaders can spend their entire career honing their communication skills because there are many dimensions to being an excellent communicator. As a new leader; however, you cannot have poor communication (speaking, writing and listening) skills. To succeed in leadership, you must have a solid foundation from which experience can build on. Let's check on some essential ingredients.
Do people get confused after you share your perspective? This is indicated by lack of response, their facial expressions, if there is a reply - it starts with some flavor of "I don't understand," or someone is continually paraphrasing you.
Do you frequently communicate in a stream-of-consciousness?
How often do you interrupt people to make your point?
Are you comfortable making eye contact with the person(s) you are speaking with?
Do you use a lot of filler words such as sorta, kinda, uhm, like, uh...
Effective communication is an art and it improves with experience. If you do not have the essential skills, it is best to take the necessary time to learn them.
5. How many extra work hours and additional stress can your life handle?
It is natural to have an eagerness to take on a leadership role. The increase in stress of expanded responsibilities and long hours are often underestimated. Depending on the position you are considering and the function of the team, the extra hours can be a little more or a lot more. Many companies have globally dispersed teams which requires working time outside of 9 to 5. Working extra hours is a slippery slope, and will have implications on your physical, mental, and emotional health for the long haul. Do you have effective techniques on how to establish clear boundaries? Having this skill will help you manage over-working. Also, there are stressors inherent to management roles. Based on all aspects of your life, how much additional stress can you (and your family) withstand? People like to call this work-life-balance; however, the reality is work-life-integration. Your work and home life are in constant mash-up.
It is easy to get drowned in books and videos about becoming a great leader. It is important to practice self-awareness and be honest about your true self, so you can decide if you are ready now. Lotus Beacon can help you navigate this very important decision. The reality is: taking a management and leadership job is a career change.
If you believe you are ready, here are additional tips to ask the hiring leader about the job so you have a clearer picture of what you're about to step into.
If you feel you're not ready, invest in yourself. Hire a knowledgeable and experienced coach to help guide you or ask your leader to assist so you can adjust your development plan accordingly.