How Do You Know You’re Ready for a Management Role?
As you make your way up the career ladder, you’ll likely get to a point where the next step is a management role. But how can you really know if you’re ready for the responsibility?
Fortunately, you’re probably more prepared than you think. I spoke with career experts — and people who are managers themselves — to share some of the telltale signs you’re ready to be a manager. Here’s what they had to say.
You Have Relevant Experience and Skills
Seb Hall, CEO at Cloud Employee, said to first assess your experience and skills. He recommends asking yourself the following questions: “Do you have relevant experience and knowledge in the field you are considering a management position in?” and “Do you have experience leading and managing teams or projects?”
“If not,” he said, “you may want to gain more experience and develop your leadership skills before pursuing a management position.”
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You Have the Right Personal Qualities
“Being a good manager requires a combination of technical skills and personal qualities,” Hall said.
To assess whether your personal qualities are aligned with management roles, he recommends asking yourself, “Do you have strong communication and interpersonal skills? Are you able to make difficult decisions and handle conflicts effectively? Do you have a good understanding of business operations and strategies?”
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, that’s a good sign you are ready.
You Have a Complete Understanding of Your Company’s Organization
“Before you’re ready to take on a leadership position, you need to know your business inside and out,” said Serenity Gibbons, local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California. “You have to recognize how the role you play impacts other people, and it’s helpful for you to understand the jobs and responsibilities of others. First-hand experience is crucial for you to be able to provide valuable direction and feedback for your team.”
If you’ve worked in other roles within the company, or you’ve made a real effort to understand individuals’ roles and how they relate to the overall goals of your company, that’s a good indication you’re ready to lead.
Co-Workers Already Turn to You for Advice
People who are ready to be managers often already have the respect and trust of their colleagues.
“One of the easiest ways to know you’re ready for a management role is when people naturally come to you with questions,” said Chalmers Brown, former CTO of Due. “If you’re good at what you do, others will take notice and want your advice. If you pay attention to those around you, you can gain reassurance in your own abilities and feel confident in taking on leadership roles.”
You Have a Long-Term View of What’s Needed for Success
“You need to make sure you have the strong ability to think strategically beyond short-term goals,” said John Rampton, CEO of Calendar. “Managers need to be able to see the big picture and keep their team focused on individual responsibilities. Strategic thinkers are planners and, as a manager, you will be expected to set the agenda for everyone. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t also be flexible. Sometimes goals need to change, and management has to be able to make that call.”
You Genuinely Want To Be a Leader
“Ask yourself if you truly want the responsibility and all that entails,” said Steve Gickling, founder of ETLrobot. “If you’re in a situation where you’ve been offered a promotion, take the time to think about what’s motivating you to say yes. If it’s only the title and increased salary, you might not be the best person for the job. If you want to push others to succeed and are ready to lead by example, feel confident saying yes to a management role.”
You’re Open to Other Opinions
Being a manager doesn’t mean you can’t rely on others. In fact, you should still lean on others who have expertise in different areas than you.
“Anyone who has been a successful leader will attest to the value of knowing when to consult with others,” said Brad Anderson, editor-in-chief of ReadWrite. “Management is not about always having the answers. Often, it’s about knowing how to strategically work with the people around you, leveraging their expertise. If you frequently think you’re the only one with great ideas, you’re probably not ready to lead. But if you’re open, willing to ask questions and eager to listen to great ideas, you have the potential to be a great manager.”
You Can Handle Criticism
Being a manager sometimes requires having a thick skin, so you should be at a point in your career where you are able to receive constructive criticism without taking it personally.
“You know you’re ready for a management role when you can receive criticism and it doesn’t ruin your whole day,” said Mikel Fields, founder and brand strategy consultant at Castello Branco Fields. “As a manager, there will be things you do that people don’t like — and they’ll be vocal about it. If what they say will crush your confidence or distract you from work, then you may not be ready for a role where you’ll receive criticism.”
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
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