How do you get past the “required experience” section of a job description when you know you don’t have the experience the company is asking for?
Our Career Coaches help individuals solve a myriad of problems, from how to make a career transition to nailing a job interview. So, it won’t shock you that one topic we frequently tackle with clients is career progression. You know you’re ready to take that next step, but every job description your read leaves you feeling unqualified. You want to step up, you want to manage a team, but you can’t get promoted internally and can’t get traction on external opportunities you’re applying to either. What’s the solution? The best advice I can give you to land a leadership role is to become a leader first.
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When I think of the great managers I’ve worked with in my career it is very clear why they are great. Great leaders understand their responsibility as a manager is not to hold a “position”, but rather to exhibit an attitude and build a team. Great managers lead by example, aren’t above getting their hands dirty and above all manage with integrity. You don’t “become” a manager. Instead, you lead, support and mentor others. The promotion and job title will come as a result of your efforts. So if you are really sure you want to manage, begin by consciously changing your behavior with the following tips.
Offer Help And Guidance To A Struggling Peer
When a peer is struggling, a leader will step in to help. Common statements such as “that’s not my job” never cross a leaders mind. True leaders understand there is a job to do, and as a team, everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction. If a teammate falls, pick them up. Don’t expect accolades. Just do it and go about your day. It will be noticed, you don’t need to ring a bell.
Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Change causes tension. Don’t add to the office drama. Rise above the fray to support innovation and growth. In today’s business climate, I don’t wonder if things will change, but rather how can I change with innovation as it comes.
Change drives growth and sustainability. Without change businesses die. As a leader, it’s important you recognize this fact of life and embrace it. Rally the troops by being supportive of ideas and innovation. When a peer complains, attempt to help them understand the bigger picture; do not pile on the complaint bus.
No One Is Beneath You
We all start somewhere. Acting as if you don’t remember what it’s like to work at a fast food chain, as a valet or a landscape assistant only makes you seem petty and insecure. Some of the smartest people I know are hardworking individuals who love what they do and get their hands dirty doing it.
Be thoughtful and engage others, regardless of their perceived status. As a leader, you need everyone on your team. Your best sales professional may be landing huge clients, but his or her success wouldn’t happen without the IT help desk, the receptionist or the evening cleaning crew. Leaders understand success only happens with the support of the entire organization, not just the corner office team.
Not sort of humble, but truly humble. Great leaders don’t toot their own horn. They don’t take credit for someone else’s work. Great leaders celebrate team success, not personal success. There is a huge difference in being proud of a success and bragging about how smart you are for being part of that success. Very few things in business are accomplished by one person. There is always a team, assistant or support staff doing the heavy lifting. Taking individual credit for something you really didn’t accomplish alone isn’t just annoying, it’s arrogant and thoughtless.
Talk Less, Listen More
You may chat up your friends at the bar, but in business sometimes less is more. If you’re the only person constantly flapping your gums in a meeting take a step back and listen. Your team has good ideas and if you exhibit patience, you may learn something. Being a great listener is key as a leader. Leaders are always listening for the next big idea, the next opportunity to mentor and the next opportunity to find their replacement. True leaders don’t value their own thoughts over others. They aren’t talking just to fill the silence. A true leader speaks when they can add value. They aren’t on stage waiting to hear the crowd roar.
If you have had the pleasure of working for a great manager, you already know a leader isn’t sitting in an ivory tower planning and scheming all day. Great managers dive in and give their team everything they have. So, if you want to get promoted and lead a team directly, start indirectly leading your peers today.
Give them your all and take a leadership test drive. If you still want to manage, keep plugging away and your wish will be granted before you can look up from your desk to realize it! Peer to peer leadership is noticed by executive management, perform as an indirect leader and your promotion will come naturally and will provide you success stories you can share during an interview to prove you do have the exact experience any job description requires!