When I was working at a large corporation, I saw many employees who were extremely smart and talented, were very skilled in their jobs and had great personalities. Nonetheless, it seemed that it took them very long to advance from an entry-level position to a leadership position.
Leadership, if very broadly defined is not attached to any particular level in an organization. It is present anywhere where an employee demonstrates leadership skills. These can be applied to the smallest task or situation. The moment you take the initiative to solve a problem, provide direction to a confused team, or own a task, you can demonstrate leadership skills. However, what I want to focus on in this post are the key qualities you need to demonstrate to advance into a leadership position in terms of a concrete position in the organization, i.e. becoming a manager, a director, assistant vice president, head, and whatever other positions exist in the company you work at.
I want to emphasize the word demonstrate here. People often don’t realize is that it’s not enough to merely possess a range of important skills and qualities.
You may have an array of awesome skills, but these will not be useful for your career progression if you don’t demonstrate these in a way that these can be recognized by others.
To be considered for a leadership position, you need a robust set of soft skills, in addition to hard skills. If based on your own assessment you think that you are ready for a leadership position, you might already be very good at the basics of your job. You are advanced in the technical requirements of your job. You know about your job from A to Z and how to work productively. Even if this is not the case yet, it is not too hard to upgrade your hard skills, as it is relatively easy to find out how to improve these.
What is more difficult to develop are the key soft skills or qualities that are expected of people in leadership positions. A good start is to know which these include, so you can start to develop and also demonstrate these. This list is not exhaustive but contains those that are always found in most articles on leadership. There are many qualities such as honesty, integrity, commitment, accountability, which I didn’t put on this list because I believe that these are hygiene factors or qualities that every employee at any level should possess, rather than ‘extra’ qualities’ that catapults you to the next level.
This is my top list of qualities you should demonstrate if you want to advance into a leadership position:
1. Outstanding managerial competence
2. Ability to provide clarity and vision
3. Ability to inspire others and demonstrating sincere enthusiasm
4. Decision-making capabilities
5. Ability to delegate and empower
6. Confidence and courage
7. Being an extremely good communicator
8. Composure and ability to apply tact
In how far do you think you already possess these qualities, and moreover, to what extent have you demonstrated this at your job so far?
To be continued in Part 2