“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet” – Henry Mintzberg
A lot of people are interested in becoming managers, yet never take the leap. One reason for this has to do with the organizations they work for. Taking your first step into an entry level leadership position can be the most important step in someone’s career. How do you get your foot in the door of organizational leadership? Most of the time, you just have to ask…
Holding a managerial position doesn’t guarantee you will benefit from a wealth of leadership skills, not by any stretch, but NOT taking on a leadership position will make the acquisition of these skills much more difficult to attain. Experience is the greatest teacher, especially as it pertains to leadership. Unlike many other professions, there isn’t a “one right way” to do anything. No two leadership positions are the same either, as the performance of one’s team is the only barometer that matters; whereas in many other career paths the performance of an individual is what matters.
When you work in a place where no one wants to be a manager, it’s a huge sign that the managers in the organization aren’t very good. If you hear managers constantly complaining about stress and how unfair they are treated, it’s often because they are yet to understand that taking responsibility for a team’s performance instead of your own is what the job is all about. This is the hardest thing to learn, yet the most important lesson, and you don’t need to hold a high level executive position to learn this. Never take someone’s word for “how bad the position is” unless you’ve seen their claims founded, firsthand.
Any decent manager out there will help you to become a manager if you simply ask. Make your desire to be a manager stated, and ask for a list of things you would need to do in order to be considered for a managerial position within the organization. As simple as this is, it’s something that rarely happens, believe it or not. Now, the initial conversation just starts the process, in order to earn the position, you have to deliver on your development plan. Do not sit around and wait for people to teach you things; the vast majority of people lack the time management skills to afford you the time you need. You MUST ask questions. Become an avid learner about everything managers in your organizations do. Learn how they measure performance, and let these conversations help you to develop an idea of what you would like to accomplish as a manager.
Being a manager takes passion and dedication. You have to CARE… A LOT. That doesn’t mean that you have to put your job ahead of everything else in your life, but it does mean that the success of your team and the organization must be extremely important to you; something worth fighting for. If this isn’t you, I would recommend refraining from taking on a leadership role until you find a better fit somewhere later in your career. Entry level leadership positions are often under-appreciated in organizations, and it takes someone capable of seeing the success in others as a motivating factor in their career, or they will soon become one of the negative mindset managers mentioned above; commonly referred to in leadership circles as “victims.”
Are you the type of person who loves a challenge, enjoys working with others, and can see themselves leading a team? If so, all you need to do is ask, it’s really that simple.