Take a Leadership Role

How to Step Into a Leadership Role

The path to leadership can be a paradox. Like most professions and positions, a person must demonstrate a talent for leadership before being awarded their first leadership role. But if you don’t have a leadership role, how do you demonstrate a talent for it?

The answer is to look for opportunities to take ownership of a challenge. These may be offered to you by your manager, but it’s much better to seek them out proactively.

For example, is there a particularly difficult task that no one seems willing to tackle, or an essential process in dire need of improvement? Is there a new business paradigm your organisation should implement, or a new source of income to capitalise on? Any one of these could be a chance to prove yourself in a leadership role.

Step Up to Your Leadership Role

Naturally, it all starts by volunteering. If you have any fears about doing this, build your confidence by thinking ahead about how you will achieve the task, and undertake as much research as possible.

Leaders picture success and then identify a strategy to take them there. It may be tough at the beginning, but early successes will energise you and provide momentum to complete the task.

Seek Buy-in

You will almost certainly need to discuss the proposal with your manager to gain their buy-in. This is a good thing as it communicates your interest in taking on a leadership role and gives you an opportunity to understand more about the challenge. It also minimises the risk of treading on someone else’s toes if the task has already been assigned.

Talk to your manager about your understanding of the challenge, and the solutions you have in mind. You want your manager to know you are fully committed to doing what it takes to succeed.

To gather your thoughts, come up with five clear and distinctive answers to the question "why am I the right person for this leadership role?" This will help you speak confidently about your suitability.

Be Proactive and Willing

The key responsibility of a leadership role is to deliver the objective. You want to achieve it as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, but not at the expense of results. Be realistic about what you can achieve, how long it will take, and the resources you are likely to require.

Do as much of this planning at the outset so you can make it part of the initial discussions with your manager. This also minimises the risk of surprises later on, such as the sudden need for expensive resources to complete the task.

Take Responsibility

Taking on a leadership role is a major undertaking. You will gain many new duties, and your capacity for success will be judged on how you perform them.

As you undertake the challenge, be honest and take responsibility for right and wrong decisions. Never be afraid to ask others for help. Rather than demonstrating weakness, it shows you understand the need for collaboration and can rally people to your cause.

Good luck. You never know unless you try!

How can training help me?

Any leadership role requires skills and capabilities that you will need to develop, but bear in mind you may already possess some of them. Here are a few articles that may help:

  • What exactly is leadership?
    Before you take on a leadership role, make sure you understand what will be expected of you.
    What is leadership?
  • Which leadership qualities do you already possess and what do you need to work on?
    Our quick leadership assessment can give you an indication. Take our leadership assessment
  • Are leaders born or made?
    Our answer to this age-old question examines the most important leadership qualities.
    Leadership qualities: Are leaders born or made?

This article was originally contributed by Kent Jacobson.

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