How to Take the Pain Out Of Navigating a Career in Leadership

This month’s theme was all about self-development. This is the last blog of the month, so, I’m pulling it all together, and will share the steps you can take to take the pain out of navigating a career in leadership.

Challenges experienced by aspiring and early-career leaders

1. Lack of self-knowledge

You must understand who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, and your values. Additionally, you should determine if leadership is right for you. Obviously, you don’t want to be stuck in a position that’s not right for you because it will be painful for you and for the people who report to you.

2. Not understanding what’s needed to be a successful leader

Every leadership role is different. You must take the time to understand the competencies and the skills needed to be successful in a position. Then, you can determine if you’re equipped with the necessary skills. If not, you need to create an action plan to develop your skills and close the gaps.

3. Recognizing the need to change

Every leadership position will require something different from you. Not making the necessary adjustments in your behavior, thought process, and approach could hinder your ability to be successful. More importantly, not making the required adjustments could result in your harming the employees that report to you!

4. Asking for help

Just because you were promoted to a leadership position doesn’t mean you know everything. You must ask for help. We all need help. Asking for support simply means asking people for guidance to ensure you’re making the right moves, doing and saying the right things.

5. Finding a mentor

Mentors are important. They have been through what you’ve been through. They’re where you want to be. Asking for their guidance and support to help you navigate the landmines you’re going to encounter is only going to make you a better leader.

How to navigate a leadership career with ease.

1. Get to know yourself

Understand your core values, your strengths, and your weaknesses. The better you know yourself, the better equipped you are to identify a career that aligns with who you are and what your values are.

2. Take a personality assessment

There’s the DISC, the Predictive Index, Myers Briggs, even StrengthsFinder. The more you know about you, the better equipped you’ll be to identify opportunities that align with your strengths, weaknesses and your personality.

3. Learn about the Leadership Pipeline

There’s a book called The Leadership Pipeline. Purchase that book and read it. It explains the differences in the skills and abilities needed at each level of leadership. The more you know about the differences, the more prepared you’re going to be to develop yourself before a promotion.

The pic below depicts the leadership pipeline and the transitions one experiences during a leadership journey. Each of these transitions requires a different set of skills due to a change in the change in organizational focus and scope of responsibility.

4. Work with an executive or leadership coach

I had an executive coach early in my career who was instrumental in helping me make the transition from a frontline leader to an executive in corporate America. A coach will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and gaps and guide you in creating a plan to develop and hone your skills.

5. Join a networking or a mentoring group

A networking group will allow you to spend time with other like-minded people. People in these types of groups may have the experience you are trying to acquire. They may also have experience in positions similar to what you might have interest in. Or, they may have taken the same leadership journey, which also means, they could have insight that might be beneficial to you in the long run.

Why self-development as a theme?

1. It’ll help you get to know you

You need to know who you are, your core values, your likes, your dislikes, your strengths, and weaknesses. You need to know all these things about yourself so that you make the right choice when it comes to your career.

2. Self-development helps you understand the requirements

You don’t want to be in a position where you’re being promoted up through the ranks, and you’re not equipped for the next level. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to you. Hopefully, your company has a good selection process in place, which allows them to select the best possible candidate who is equipped to do what’s required in the role.

3. Developing yourself sets you up for success

I don’t want you to get into a position, and it’s an epic fail. Again, I hope the company you work for has a process in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many situations where people get into a leadership position, and fail because they weren’t ready.

4. Self-development expands your knowledge

It equips you with insight and knowledge. Additionally, self-development helps you expand your knowledge and improve your skills, thus help you transition from one level of leadership to the next with ease. Who doesn’t want to do that?

5. Self-development keeps you on your toes

I’ve been stressing personal development because I want you to be successful. And, by encouraging you to look at the different competencies required at the various levels of leadership, it provides you with the motivation needed to continue to develop and prepare for the next level.

Next Steps

Remember to download the guide called How to Become a Great Leader by completing the form below. The guide was specially designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, the guide provides activities to engage in to help you develop your skills.

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