Would you like to move into a leadership position but are unsure if the time is right? If so, take a look at the indicators below. Even though every situation and leadership position is different, there are common signs that can help guide you. Count up how many of the descriptors below you can identify with, and we’ll tell you how you did at the end of the article. This way, you’ll know if it might just be your time to advance to the next level—or at least start planning your next move.
1. More people come to you for advice and you enjoy this informal mentoring role.
You’ve noticed that junior colleagues are increasingly asking you for advice about managing projects and other technical topics. The advice sought also extends to subjects like how to approach certain people and work situations. You enjoy this informal mentoring role as you find it satisfying to help other people move forward in their careers.
2. You are able to adapt your communication style to the person you’re interacting with.
Before speaking to a co-worker, teammate or someone seeking advice, you consider how to best approach this person. You adapt your communication style and provide more or less detail depending on the person’s needs and style, and you also consider if face-to-face communication is better than telephone or email. You know that some people prefer a more formal meeting, whereas others prefer informal coffee chats.
3. You no longer feel stressed out when your manager asks you to change your priorities with short notice.
You used to get stressed out and angry when your boss gave you new assignments without much notice or changed existing agreements. Now, you’re more flexible and have learned to accept that the only constant is change. Changes may still disrupt you, but you don’t dwell on them and you no longer take these last-minute requests personally.
4. You’re feeling more confident when giving presentations and interfacing with customers.
Perhaps you still remember those days of sweaty palms when you were asked to present to clients or the team. Now you’re much more comfortable and no longer find it such a daunting experience. Whenever you’re asked to present in a work setting, you take the opportunity to gain as much information as possible from the group you’re presenting to by making the presentation more interactive.
5. You’re able to push back and say “no” when something doesn’t seem right.
You are increasingly unwilling to bend over backward when you’re asked to do something that doesn’t seem right. These days, you want to work as effectively as possible and you want to add the most possible value to your team and your client. This sometimes means that you have to say no to unnecessary ceremony or to assignments when your time is better spent elsewhere. And now you’re more comfortable doing so—for yourself and your teammates.
6. You are more comfortable operating at the edge of your comfort zone.
Maybe you have always been ambitious and wanted to move forward, but now you’re willing to take bigger risks in order to progress. You know that in order to learn and grow, you have to let go of conventional ways of working and venture outside of your comfort zone. You encourage yourself to expand into new areas—even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
7. You have received exceptional feedback from senior staff.
Due to the high quality of your work, you’re getting noticed by senior management. Not only have people higher up noticed you because you’re trustworthy and skilled at your job, but also because you’re a good communicator who is able to speak the organization’s language. These comments mean a lot to you and have also been applauded by your boss.
8. Your manager is asking what you would like to do next.
Your boss has recently started asking you where you see yourself going next in your career. No promises have been made, but you get the sense that you’re valued and that your boss would like to see you advance in the company. You’re excited at the prospect of a more senior role, which would include managing people, and you’re eager to explore what this role might look like.
How many of the above signs have you noticed in the last three to six months? Here’s a very informal and unscientific assessment.
If you identified with:
7 – 8: Congratulations: It looks like you are ready for a leadership position! There is no need to hold back. What are you waiting for?
4 – 6: Things are looking good! Keep honing your skills and continue to challenge yourself to act and think like a leader.
1 – 3: It seems you need a few more years under your belt. Or perhaps your strength is in being a subject matter expert and an individual contributor—which in itself is invaluable.