At some point, all aspiring leaders have to overcome their lack of management experience to move up the career ladder. Although you may feel ready for a leadership role, your superiors need proof you can handle more responsibility and make good decisions as a manager. Whether you're aiming for a leadership role with your current employer or a new one, use these strategies to showcase your management skills.
Highlight Soft Skills and Expertise
If you've changed industries a few times or only worked in entry- to mid-level roles, it can be hard for employers to see the totality of your experience. Managers are involved in a wide range of daily operations, so it's important to show employers you're comfortable coaching and hiring, delegating, overseeing deadlines and giving presentations.
To prove you're qualified for a leadership role, make sure your resume and online profiles highlight moments when you took charge or closely assisted other leaders. For example, describing how you manned the company booth at a trade show or helped your manager host interviews are great ways to highlight soft skills. Remember, numbers are your friend when it comes to proving expertise. Employers are more likely to hire you as a newbie manager if you have experience performing relevant tasks.
Ask About Advancement
Asking higher-ups exactly what it takes to advance is one effective way to move up to a leadership role. Many supportive managers appreciate an ambitious employee who's upfront about wanting to grow with the company. Find out what skills and qualities you need to demonstrate. If your manager responds positively, ask for one-on-one mentoring or opportunities to take the lead on future projects. Bring up advancement topics early in the hiring or onboarding process, and you gain a clear plan of action for conveying your value.
Study Your Environment
Understanding team and culture dynamics at your workplace can help you gain influence long before you get promoted. In a leadership role, the biggest challenges are managing relationships and getting workers to achieve the right results. When you pay attention to how others interact, you get better at choosing the right ways to mentor and encourage your peers. Be a good listener, and find out what matters to co-workers to build relationships throughout the company. Talking to people also gives you insight about where the company is headed, so you can take advantage of emerging leadership opportunities.
Find Gaps to Fill
Set an example of initiative, self-discipline and teamwork. Expand your role in small ways by stepping up to help new employees and volunteering when co-workers need an extra hand. Taking the lead in welcoming new workers is a smart way to show your mentoring skills and build relationships with people who may be your advocates in the future. Not to mention, collaborating with people on different teams enables you to learn the ins and outs of the business and come up with creative solutions that make you valuable to the company.
Don't wait for a promotion to start gaining management experience. Look around your workplace, and you're sure to find countless ways you can learn from superiors, deliver impressive results and show maturity. Pursuing your first leadership role may seem daunting, but you're more likely to win supporters in high places when you're proactive about your career goals.
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