People seeking our services frequently ask us this question, so we put it to career coach Rachel Hill, who has helped hundreds of people get more out of their working life.
Wishing to progress at work is a natural desire for many in the workplace, but it can often seem out of reach. You may notice some colleagues move up the career ladder without any effort whilst others struggle to make it up a rung or two.
This may leave you questioning if there is some trick to becoming a leader you don’t know about. I’m here to tell you there isn’t. All you need to progress is a desire to lead people, an open mind, and the willingness to improve.
Here are three steps you can take to help get you started on your path to management:
Step 1: Be honest with yourself about your motivation for becoming a manager
There are many reasons why you might want to become a manager. What’s valid for someone else, though, may not necessarily be true for you. It’s essential to look inward and consider why being a manager appeals to you.
Ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to be a manager?’
For example, do you want to:
- Extend your influence and have a greater say in day-to-day business operations?
- Share your knowledge with others and inspire the next generation?
- Have more choice about how you spend your time at work?
- Make a difference?
- Are you ready to step up to the next level and be challenged more?
It’s vital to ensure you’re seeking promotion for the right reasons to succeed both now and in the future.
People who are only in it for the pay bump – with little interest in taking on the increased responsibility that comes with being a manager – typically struggle to keep up with the increased demands as their heart simply isn’t in it.
Once you’ve worked out exactly why you want to become a manager, you’ll be better placed to implement an effective strategy to achieve it.
Step 2: Start thinking like a leader
You may be tempted to apply for the first position that opens up assuming that your experience is evidence enough that you have the skills to be a manager. However, the likelihood is you’re going up against other equally qualified candidates.
So, how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
Thankfully, hiring managers aren’t just looking for experienced candidates, but candidates that demonstrate genuine drive, passion and determination. With that in mind, consider what you could do to show your leadership potential.
One often overlooked aspect is the soft skills leaders typically have, such as being a great communicator and bringing out the best in people around them.
Look at your strengths as well as areas you need to develop to become a leader. For example, you may already be technically excellent and work well in a team. Your influencing skills may stand out as well. However, it might be that you over commit yourself at times and take on too much work. Maybe you don’t ask for help as you’re worried people will think you can’t do your job correctly. These are areas that could be worked on.
It can be hard to look at yourself objectively, so enlist the help of someone unbiased who you trust. You may be surprised by their feedback.
You can then think about ways to overcome any issues that are holding you back.
Step 3: Show up consistently, day in and day out
There’s some mileage in the adage, ‘Fake it until you make it’. However, why bother faking it at all if you can live it.
I find that people who have the best success following career coaching have taken a good, honest look at themselves, embraced lifelong learning and a willingness to try, try and try again. When they see and feel the changes they are making, they become open to continuously improving and commit wholeheartedly to making positive changes in their work-lives.
When you genuinely believe in your work, and who you are, you exude capability and confidence – two traits successful leaders have.
Hint: They’re the same traits hiring managers are on the lookout for.
Rachel Hill works with people facing difficult situations in their work-life. With over 20 years of experience as a coach and senior manager, Rachel is armed with a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to help clients navigate real life dilemmas, from people who feel undervalued, stressed, bullied, or burnt out, to people overthinking, overworking or struggling with imposter syndrome – people stuck in their careers. More about Rachel.