Do you think a management career is right for you? Check.

Do you think a management career is right for you? Check.

Management career check.

Managing your career path is your responsibility

Leadership in your company can help you, but they cannot do it for you. When it comes to management, take the time to consider whether this is what you want and not just a simplistic view of career advancement. Would you like the operational focus, coordination, trade off management, and investing in your people? Would you rather be in charge of a project, thus driving it directly, influencing it, shaping it, and creating it? How well do you understand what isn’t visible in management?

You should ask for what you want

Asking to be promoted to management doesn’t guarantee it’ll happen. The business, the person, and the opportunity all need to be ready. But asking is the critical first step. One should have clarity of intention, communication, and the importance of being proactive about managing own career.

Time is precious, so make the most of it 

It’s not a good idea to rush into management. You can use your time as an individual contributor as a training ground. This is your opportunity to build your functional skills, your technical skills, your brand, and your ability to execute. It’s also the best time to learn different functions so you can apply them later as a leader. During this time, establish a network of people who trust your skills, your decision making, and your work so everyone will naturally look to you for the next leadership role.

It’s not important what the title says

Management may not be on your career path if you’re waiting to be a manager before becoming a leader. Every day, all of us have opportunities  to help the organization become better. Do you have a great launch plan? Share it with your friends. Are they complaining to you because they’re frustrated? Don’t nod your head and pile on; figure out how you can help them. “Leadership is personal, not positional.”

Every generation had its own leader

We’d all be pretty smart if we knew what we all know. Contributions here and there – helping a teammate, improving a process, giving thoughtful feedback – all add up to leadership capital.

Management skills can be developed in a variety of ways

You do not have to wait for a management position to open up. Lead projects first. Train or mentor a junior team member. Volunteer outside of work. Having these experiences will help you  articulate why you have what it takes to lead a team.

Identify your strengths and  weaknesses

Develop your ability to understand where people do their best work and where they don’t. Praise colleagues for great work is equally easy to overlook. If you want to develop your management skills, start honing your  ability to have these conversations. Recognize when they make you uncomfortable. Put some effort into it. People will respect your feedback over time. Hundreds of people will start asking you for feedback. If you’re good at it. When you reach that point, you’ve arrived. You’re seen as a leader.

If you keep doing the same thing, you will not get there

You just became a manager, so remember the changes you just made. Just now, your priorities have shifted. The company just changed what it needs from you. Individual contributors often have difficulty adjusting to this change since what they were good at is not what is expected of them anymore. As a new employee, you have new expectations, new peers, and new challenges.

Make sure the company you choose is growing

Search for a company that offers a good product and operates in a growing market. Companies that are growing offer much more opportunity than those that are static or declining. Although managing your first team in a company that is undergoing layoffs or declining markets can be valuable, it doesn’t look as impressive on your resume as “driving double-digit growth.”

Comfort yourself with discomfort

Nobody tells you this in management training  courses. First, you’re no longer the person who excels in personal contribution as a manager. It can be scary because the field you excelled in continues to evolve without you, and eventually, you find you’re no longer good at it. It’s okay, though. That’s not your job right now. A career in management also involves some touchy conversations. Budgets, compensation, promotions, non-promotions, performance issues, etc., need to be discussed. Conversations like these aren’t easy. Become comfortable being uncomfortable and addressing hard topics professionally. You will find it useful in your personal life and all along your  career path, whether you are a manager or not.

Release your inner control freak

This can be terrifying for new managers. Make  sure the right thing is done the right way. By hiring the right people, setting the right vision, establishing the correct measures, and influencing change, you can take the edge off your discomfort with indirect control. Make sure you have  the right people with the right critical thinking skills.

You don’t have to be a manager to advance in your career

Don’t assume that becoming a manager is your only option. Almost every field is becoming broader and deeper. As a highly skilled (and oftentimes highly paid) specialist, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to grow your career. Learn about the responsibilities of management that go beyond leading meetings,  wrangling budgets, and making decisions. Please take your time. Be deliberate. You owe it to yourself to make a course correction if you get that promotion but later discover it was the wrong path. A career is a terrible thing to waste.

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