Many people aspire to hold a leadership position within their organization. However, they harbor the aspiration out of a sense of natural career progression – not because it’s something they want or that may suit them.
People who are exceptional individual contributors or go-to subject matter experts within their organization should not necessarily be in a leadership role managing people. In fact, it could be a sign that someone is great at exactly that – contributing their expertise, fine-tuning it, and becoming a leader in their area of expertise rather than as a manager of people.
It is vital to know your career goals long in advance of becoming a manager. What defines success for you? Is it more money? Is it being consulted for your expertise? Is it managing people? Below are a few good questions to ask yourself before diving into a management role:
Do you enjoy teaching?
A big part of managing people is helping them grow and develop. If you are more motivated by the work you produce rather than transferring skills and knowledge to other people, management is likely not a good role for you. If, on the other hand, you are excited about the prospect of seeing those around you improve – and you are comfortable tying your career progression and success metrics to that improvement – then management could be a good move for you.
Are you comfortable with confrontation?
If the thought of conflict makes you cringe, people management is not the right fit. Managing people means managing everything that comes along with people – conflict and all. Having uncomfortable conversations is a regular occurrence when it comes to managing people. Are you good at conflict resolution? Maybe you are the one who always has the difficult conversations with customers or resolves issues for angry customers. If so, managing people and their expectations within your organization could be a good thing for you.
How are your feedback skills?
In addition to coaching people along, managers provide both critical and positive feedback to their teams. People managers should have exceptional interpersonal skills and be great at communicating; not all are, but those people likely found themselves managing people versus pursuing it as a career interest. The people you would be managing are expecting guidance and feedback, so if constructive and continuous feedback is a strong suit of yours, consider a role involving the management of people.
Where do you enjoy spending the majority of your time?
If you do not enjoy meeting with people, having discussions based on their wants and needs, and acting on behalf of the people you are managing, do not consider a role in people management. If you are pursue a management role, be aware that you will likely spend the majority of your time in meetings and talking about the people you manage.
Do you consider yourself to be a selfless person?
Most people think they will like being the boss of others, and they view the power as a continuation of their career progression. While a people management role may lead you to your next career aspiration, you should be willing and able to dedicate yourself – and your career – to those you are managing. If you only want a management position to further yourself, consider doing that by some other means.
Some people view management as the pinnacle of their career, and they enjoy it. Others find themselves in management positions wishing they could return to their other job; accepting a management position is truly a career change. It is crucial to think about what you want and what your definition of success is.