I was recently asked to coach a group of managers who were being considered for leadership roles in their organization.
When I was hired, I was told that although they had been outstanding as managers, they needed to learn what it meant to be effective leaders as opposed to good managers.
In my individual meetings with them, they all asked the same question: “When will I know I’m ready?” I shared the following six signs or indicators.
When you stop being a task master and start to be a coach of your team
There’s nothing wrong with a manager making sure that specific work is done on time and done well. However, you’ll be more ready for leadership when members of your team know what they need to accomplish, they are empowered by you to be creative and find the best ways to get results. As long as you are monitoring every action and controlling how they do their job, you don’t have the mental energy or time to coach them to develop their strengths. You’re also increasing your workload and working small.
When you have a vision for how you want to lead and how your leadership skills and behaviors add value to the organization
This means that you are able to look at a bigger picture, take risks, and leverage your strengths towards achieving the mission of the whole organization and not just your team or function.
When people seek you out for your insight beyond the scope of your work
People are often told to dress for the position they want; however in this scenario, other people recognize your accomplishments and seeing you “wearing the position of leader.” People at higher levels see you as a thought partner, so they ask your advice and want your feedback. This means that you’ve been able to develop and implement a strategy to be seen and heard as an expert in other people’s eyes. They’re not waiting for you to have the formal title; they’re already seeing you as a leader. You just need to say “yes.”
You recognize and clearly articulate the value you add for your team and how it impacts the organization
You know what will be different for the enterprise in the next role. I’ve had clients who are working so hard to get promoted, that they forget why they are being promoted and that with their new role comes the responsibility of moving the organization forward. It’s not just about you, but also about how you impact innovation, productivity and profit.
When you see yourself in a leadership role, and act like a peer to senior leaders at the highest levels
This is hard for some people in that they have to revamp their mindset from defining themselves as a manager who wants to be help the team and get recognized by people more senior, but to have the mindset that they no longer have to “try-out,” or impress. Your interactions with senior people are as equals and you are comfortable giving feedback, sharing ideas and even pushing back when appropriate.
When you ask for the promotion and can tell your boss clearly, concisely, and with confidence why you are ready.
You don’t need to have all of these perfect. If you try too hard to be perfect, you’re overthinking and can miss your opportunity. When you see 60% of these signs in yourself, it means that you have the skills, insight and outlook to achieve 100% once you are in a leadership position. Be ready to stretch, take risks, and not be afraid of failing, as long as you’re learning.