At What Point of Your Career Should You Be Moving into a Leadership Role?
Taking on a leadership role might seem like a natural choice to climb higher up a career ladder, but how do you know when it is the right time to do so? A prestigious position and a bigger paycheck won’t necessarily make you happier if you’re not ready. As explained in a previous post here on Tucareers, career choices have significant implications not just on those aforementioned perks, but also in one’s lifestyle, socio-economic status, and emotional wellbeing.
In truth, there are no strict rules or timeframe to follow when making a decision to move into a leadership role. However, there are some key signs to look out for to know it’s time for you to move up. Here are a few of them:
You’re setting the standards for your current position. One clear clue that you are ready for a leadership role is if you are already doing well in your current job and receiving exceptional feedback because of it. Conversely, award-winning career author Lisa Quest explains that a person who can’t perform outstandingly in their current capacity is unlikely to be able to handle additional responsibilities. If you have proven yourself organized, self-motivated, and outstanding to others, then you might just be ready to be accountable for more than just yourself.
You’re already informally mentoring your peers. Sometimes, rank-and-file employees exhibit leadership skills without knowing it. While some may pursue leadership roles, others have leadership roles thrust upon them. For Unilever’s Gina Boswell, it was a while before she realized that she had graduated from individual contributions to already motivating a diverse group of staff and influencing company decisions. If you’re already taking on informal leadership tasks and are concerned about the whole company outside of just your role, then it’s a good time to step up and make things formal.
You’ve become more confident and able to say ‘no’. Another sign that you are growing into a leader is that you’re more confident when interacting with others. You're comfortable in giving presentations and speaking your mind – even in decisions that aren’t aligned with your organization’s vision, mission, and goals. With this, you’re firm in making a stand and setting good examples for others.
Your manager is asking what you would like to do next. This is perhaps one of the surest signs of readiness for a leadership transition. Being asked by higher-ups about your career plans for the future provide a sense that you’re valued in the company and are expected to advance within it. Once a leadership position is offered, be sure to learn everything about its terms and responsibilities to know for sure if you are willing to take them on. Should you decide to seize the opportunity for a leadership role, the CFA Institute advises taking the time to plan out your transition both into your new role and out of your current one.
Once you become a leader, you will be faced with a whole new set of challenges and opportunities for development. Be prepared for a little awkwardness, and understand that you will make mistakes. Menlo Coaching explains that alongside your successes, resilience and ability to learn from mistakes are some of the most important things that people will want to know about you as a leader. It is important to reflect upon both good and bad experiences in order to ensure further growth.
Remember to always lead by example and learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can.