How to Know it’s Time to Take On Leadership

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signs you are ready for leaddership

You now have several years’ experience in your industry, you know the intricacies of the business, you are good at what you do, and you now feel it is time to move up. You even have the target role you want to move into locked within your focus.

Breath. Take a step back and remember that past success in your role, mentoring a few of peers and basically acing all your KPIs don’t necessarily mean that you will succeed in management. It is a whole different dimension up there. So, how do you really know you are ready? Below are sure signs that you will succeed in the management of a team in a leadership role.  

  1. Your attitude has evolved

Your attitude is the first signal that you are ready for the altitude. Are you willing to go the extra mile? Do you do more than just your basic job description? Does your boss know that he/she can assign you tasks and trust that you will complete them with minimal supervision? Do things that bothered you before; like impromptu tasks no longer bother you? In fact, you even find yourself more flexible these days and somehow understand that the only constant thing is change. If you no longer take last minute requests and disruptions from your boss personally you are well on your way there.

How to achieve this: Start working on your attitude. Be more open to change and maintain a positive outlook towards everything.

2.You see the bigger picture

ready for leadership - see the bigger picture

Leaders see their roles and the roles of their teams as a cog in the wheel that runs the organisation. They have a 360-degree view of the company goals, systems, structure and departments. Do you know how what you do helps the organisation you work for? If you understand how each department works, how they all work together to achieve goals and the challenges experienced, you are in a better position to be a leader. If you are still obsessed with your particular role in the company and don’t care what everyone else does, you still have a few years to go before you can be fit to lead.  

How to achieve this: Consciously make an effort to understand your company’s basics. Vision, mission and values; competitors in the industry and where it ranks; all products, major and minor clients; industry buzz, mentions and what is being said out there.

3. More people are looking up to you

ready for leadership

You are already a leader if people come to you for advice on managing projects or other technicalities, depending on your expertise. They may also ask for advice on other work-related situations and topics. Do you enjoy these informal mentoring sessions? Because if you don’t, it might be an indicator that you are an expert who just prefers working and works best as a lone specialist. And there is nothing wrong with that. Some of us are not meant for leadership and it is best to understand this about yourself early in your career. You will then develop your skill and grow laterally as opposed to vertically.

How to achieve this: Become so good in your skill so that you are the go-to person on matters in your department. Continually improve your skill with research, courses and staying updated on industry trends.

4. You customise communication depending on audience

You have probably heard a colleague in the workplace talk to a client, upper management or support staff and thought, “Nancy could have packaged that information better. She should know who she is talking to.” A critical attribute in a leader is emotional intelligence. You should be able to read your environment and tailor your response or reactivation in a way that has the best-desired impact and achieves the goal, while at the same time communicating at the level of the concerned individuals.

How to achieve this: Emotional intelligence is a deliberate effort on your part. Know what it entails and begin applying it.

5. You are now more confident interacting with clients and senior management

ready for leadership

Earlier in your current position, you might have been nervous when called upon to address clients or upper management. You have, over time, worked on your emotions and self-confidence to the point of perfecting official meetings and presentations. This signifies growth in the right direction and readiness to take on leadership. You are now more comfortable in the position and are ready for the next stage.

How to achieve this: Building confidence takes time and ironically, confidence. You need to put yourself out there more. Click To Tweet Do things you consider uncomfortable. Volunteer to take on projects that expose you to interact with clients and management. You will falter initially, but with time you will notice it is no longer a drag; and that you are actually enjoying it.

6. You are not afraid of saying ‘no’ or pushing back

As you grow in your skill, you become increasingly unwilling to do everything you are told without critically thinking about how it impacts on your personal and overall company goals; as well as if it is the best use of your time. This means you start saying ‘no’ to requests that don’t make sense. You learn to put aside personal feelings and work on facts and data that presents results and has an impact on company objectives.

How to achieve this: Start saying no to things you believe do not make sense. Be careful not be abrasive while doing it, maintain courtesy and professionalism at all times. Always ensure that you have sufficient and reasonable reasons to back your resolve and be flexible to see the other point of view.

 7. You can comfortably step out of your comfort zone

You have become so comfortable in your role, know the important functions of your department and understand what is priority; to the point, if your boss had an emergency you would back-support just fine. Your ambition and curiosity have contributed to this fact and you feel like jumping into unchartered waters. This is your cue to look out for a leadership role and begin talking to your boss about it. 

How to achieve this: Be curious. Discover what more you can do above your normal job description. Take challenges as just that: challenges to be overcome, and always look for new solutions to persistent problems.

8. People above are noticing

If you are exceptionally good at what you do your successes are being mentioned by senior management, it could be a sign you were meant for so much more. The logic is that high performers are ambitious and always find a way to be exceptional. High performers also speak the company’s language, understand the DNA of the brand and focus their energies on supporting objectives.

How to achieve this: Master you skill and trade and perform your duties with a passion. Also, learn your company’s values and speak its language. 

9. Your manager is interested in your next move

Your manager knows too well that high performers flare up and burn fast, leaving very little to challenge them. When you can do your daily tasks with your eyes closed, you will soon be looking around you. So if you manager is of late interested in what plans you have for your career, or what you would like to do next; it could be a signal that a big shift is coming your way.

How to achieve this: Cover the basics first – your current duties should be done satisfactorily before you can move to anything else. Go the extra mile and always be ready to help out your boss with the next project they are working on.

Create A Rich Balance

Now, it is possible for you to have one or two attributes listed above. Does that mean you are fit to be a leader? Of course not. How this works is that the more of the attributes listed above you have, the closer you are to being an ideal leader in the workplace. Below is an informal and unscientific gauge you can use;

7 – 9: Congratulations! You are ready to be a leader. There is nothing holding you back. Here are a few choice books you can read to give you the oomph you need. 

4 – 6: Almost there! Things are looking really good. Continue honing your skills and work on the attributes you miss. This article could shed more light on how to think and act like a leader. 

1 – 3: You can make it! It looks like you need a few more years to master the required attributes. Or maybe, your career interests do not include leadership roles. You prefer being an individual expert contributor to a team – which is in itself, invaluable. Either way, you can get valuable insight on personal branding here

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.