What You Need to Move into a Leadership Role in Business
Whether you want to start leading your team, open a business yourself, or move into another high-level leadership role in the business sector, it will take patience and dedication when it comes to your career. If you are an ambitious person, this may have always been your aim when it came to your career plans, and you might already have studied a business discipline at college and found employment after graduation. However, if you are just starting your business career journey, or you want to try and take those next steps to move into a leadership role, you might want to consider your current position and determine what else you need to have in place to make this happen. Below are some suggestions as to how you can make this happen for yourself and the key skills and qualifications you will need to give yourself the best chance of becoming one of tomorrow’s great business leaders.
Plenty of Experience
You can’t walk into an entry-level position and then expect to be running the company the following year. To get into the top leadership roles, you will need to earn it, and this means dedicating yourself to your career and proving that you have what it takes to make a strong leader. Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable pieces. For example, after your first year or two in employment, apply to become a team supervisor, then a manager, an area manager, and so on. All of these smaller but no less important leadership roles will prepare you for the bigger goals of your career, whether that is being an executive in the company or even becoming an entrepreneur yourself.
If you are still in college, another great way to gain some business experience is by applying for internships that you can do during your summer breaks or between semesters. Some internship programs are paid, but the majority will be unpaid or only cover expenses, such as travel and lunches. Do your research to find the right kind of internship program for you and start saving as soon as possible to cover your living expenses if you will need to do a few months of unpaid work. Volunteer positions can also be beneficial, particularly if you are in a role where you are in charge of a group of volunteers, as this will help you to develop those leadership skills.
Be a Great Communicator
You can’t lead a team leader successfully if your communication skills are lacking. It will be your responsibility to ensure that everyone has clear instruction when it comes to their goals and daily tasks, but you’ll also need to be able to liaise effectively with clients, managers, and other colleagues to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to projects and overall business goals.
It’s not just about making sure everyone gets the memos, either. The way you communicate with people is equally important, as tone and your ability to listen to what your team has to say will play a big part in overall morale. If your team feels as though they are neglected, patronized, or disrespected by you, this can quickly lead to chaos and a toxic working environment. Although it is important to make sure you are still considered an authority figure, you do need to be able to build a good rapport with everyone you work with to keep the working environment harmonious and professional.
The Willingness to Keep Learning
You should also be willing to continue learning throughout your career, even when you do reach your leadership role goals. The way the world and businesses operate is ever evolving, and if you want to make sure the business you are helping run stays relevant, you need to keep your finger on the pulse. Even when you are still on your journey toward these leadership roles, refreshing your knowledge about the industry that you work in will keep you in the running as a candidate and can allow you to develop great insights that will impress your managers or other prospective employers. You could even find some inspiration that might lead you to start a business yourself, eventually becoming an industry trailblazer.
While updating your industry knowledge is key, you might also want to think about the idea of returning to college to get a higher qualification if you don’t already have one. Getting a master’s degree or higher in a relevant business discipline can help you to stand out but also provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on more responsibility. You could even enroll in a course like this online MBA that will make it more flexible to study while you continue working. Achieving these additional qualifications will also reflect your dedication to your career and indicate that you are serious about moving up the ladder and becoming a leader in your field.
When you are a leader, people will be looking to you to guide them and take control. This is where excellent organization skills will come into play, as without this, you’re likely to struggle to get any sense of order to your working day, let alone overseeing tasks that your team is responsible for. With the additional pressures that will already come with being a business leader, you need to make your life easier and get into good habits when it comes to your organization and start putting this into practice now. Give yourself and your team realistic deadlines, use calendars and reminders to help you manage your schedule, and come up with a smart filing system on your computer and for paper copies of documents to make accessing this information seamless. Remember, you will be leading by example, so if you want your teams to be as efficient as possible, you need to make sure that you are doing the same.
The Ability to Work Under Pressure
When you are leading a team or running an entire company, this can come with a lot of pressure. The last thing people want to see from those in leadership roles is someone unraveling and letting stress get the better of them. Of course, there will be times when you might feel overwhelmed in these positions, and this is why practicing great self-care is vital. Everyone needs to make sure that they are looking after themselves so that they can live a healthier lifestyle and manage stress better, and you will find this even more relevant when you have all of this additional responsibility.
If you have previously struggled to work under pressure, you might want to think about whether working in a leadership role would be right for you. If you don’t want this to deter you, then you need to start developing better coping mechanisms for stress, so that you can handle more challenging situations better without compromising your professionalism.
The Ability to Admit When You Were Wrong
Mistakes will be made, and this could result in the business losing clients or money due to poor investments or delays in a project, etc. No one expects you to be perfect when you are in a leadership role, after all; everyone makes mistakes once in a while. However, it will be how you deal with these issues and take accountability for your mistakes that will count. A good leader can own their mistakes and apologize for them. They will also find a solution to the problem, as taking responsibility for your mistakes means helping to find a way to fix them.
It isn’t easy to admit fault, particularly if your mistakes have had serious consequences – but this is a quality that people expect from a leader and will help your team members find more respect for you than if you were to try and pass the blame onto someone else or make other excuses.
Confidence in Yourself
Finally, you need to have confidence in yourself if you want to be able to move up the career ladder into these leadership roles. If you don’t believe in yourself and appear to always be doubting your abilities, how can anyone else have confidence in you? When there is so much more responsibility on the shoulders of those in leadership roles, no one wants to hire someone who appears to be questioning themselves constantly or is afraid to make big decisions. They need to have someone confident and can inspire others to do their best and be proud of what they do.
If you’re not quite as confident in yourself yet as you would like to be, don’t worry. This does take time and it is something that you can work on. The more experience your get, both in work and in life, the more confident you will start feeling, but you can also work on some positive affirmations or try new things to push you out of your comfort zone to help with this.
A lot of people like the idea of moving into leadership roles in business, but not everyone is right for these positions. While other things go into making a great leader, you will need to have all of the above if you want to give yourself a chance to get noticed and eventually become one of the great, innovative leaders in the business sector.