I was 26, at the top of my game, and I was about to be tossed into the deep end of the management pool.
Let me back up. I was knocking it out of the park as a top sales person when the president of our company called me in and said, “We’re looking to open an office in Montreal and we’d like you to start it for us.”
Just like that! No training, no checklist and without specific knowledge of that marketplace. Just a pat on the back and off I went!
I don’t remember this experience in any negative way: I loved the company, I totally admired the President, I had grown up in Montreal so I had some French and I had a deep knowledge of the city (at least the part that I had grown up in). But that was about all I had going for me. Good thing I was too young, too ambitious and too naive to be terrified.
In that case, because I had shown some real leadership skills (rather unbeknownst to me at the time) I was tapped on the shoulder. In many situations, where you’re biting at the bit to take on more responsibility, the conversations are sometimes not nearly as fruitful and more frustrating on many levels.
That’s why I put together this checklist for you to consider. These are milestones to discuss with your manager/leader. Think about what you’ve done to move the needle forward in each of these areas, and use them as conversation points in your next discussion with your boss.
|My vocabulary is shifting from ‘me’ to ‘us’||You’ve been starting to understand the broader picture of your manager’s point of view. (It may be a simple choice of words or how you’ve promoted a company or group perspective over a personal agenda).||And here’s how I’ve accomplished this!|
|I’m beginning to manage myself
|You’ve shown that you need less hand-holding and babysitting. You know what needs to be done and are making sure it happens. You’re seeing opportunities and coordinating actions to seize them.|
|I’ve been looking out for others
|If you’ve been showing concern for your co-worker’s success, as much as your own on a group project, that’s usually a very good sign that you’re a team player who wants others to succeed.|
|I’m taking responsibility for what I’ve accomplished, as well as the mistakes I’ve made||Leadership potential shows itself as taking responsibility for a bad as well as a good outcome. You have the maturity to step up and admit when a mistake has been made.|
|I’m excelling in my job||You’ve shown natural leadership in your work and you’ve been excelling beyond expectations.|
|I’m trying to take on new responsibilities||You’ve stepped up and have been letting leadership in your firm know that you’re interested in taking on more responsibilities.|
|I’ve mastered the technical side of my role||You have mastered the technical part of your role and are interested in helping others get there, as well.|
|I’m already managing but without realizing it
|You’ve been helping other employees with their marketing plans, giving advice on how to deal with a difficult client, or making the new intern feel welcome. You’ve been doing it because you enjoy the added responsibilities.|
|I’ve been showing creativity in how I’m dealing with problems||You’ve been showing creative ways at improving processes and outcomes within the company.|
|I’ve been volunteering for leadership roles||You’ve been stepping up for projects to ‘stretch’ yourself.|
Sometimes the route to leadership can be a meandering one. If you believe you have good reason to be moving forward, do more than just ask and show them what you’ve accomplished. You may be surprise at the results!