Want to move up the career ladder? Become a coach.
It’s not rocket science for me to say that demonstrating strong leadership is essential to being promoted. But what is strong leadership if you’re only a junior finance manager yourself? And how do you demonstrate it if you don’t have a major change agenda or significant challenge to ‘lead’ a team through?
Get back to basics – be a coach
Don’t over-complicate it. Think back to the reason you were promoted. It probably rested on your ability to be an example to others – even if you had no formal training responsibility. If you did have training responsibility, or even any sort of supervisory or coaching responsibility, you were probably promoted on your success in building the capability of others. At the next level up, and in your next career step, this is no different – you just need to step it up a notch.
Identify 1-2 potential successors to your role
The key about being promoted is knowing where you’re going next, and who is going to replace you. Without identifying a potential successor, or even better, a selection of successors, you’ll be needed too much in your role, inhibiting your ability to move up the chain. Therefore, it’s imperative to start to identify who to coach. Start with identifying who has demonstrated the potential and ambition to take on your role.
Resist the temptation to fall into the ‘manager’ trap
The biggest challenge for new and emerging leaders moving up the career ladder is exerting too much authority, too quickly. People simply don’t like it – and 9 times out of 10 – it doesn’t work out for the best. When you’ve identified who to coach, don’t change the nature of your relationship with them. If you are responsible for managing them directly, this will be easier as you already have a coaching relationship of sorts. If you don’t, ensure they understand your true intentions – that you are working with them to help them get to the next level – and that this isn’t some sort of territorial, conflicting management intervention.
Free yourself up to focus on the activities being performed at the level above you
Finally, live what you promise. The greatest win a leader can have – at any level – is building capability and competence in the team to free themselves or other senior stakeholders up to focus on creating additional business value. If you can show how you have developed the capability and competence of your team to free you up to take on more senior responsibilities or strategic items, this will make your case for promotion a lot easier to present and in some ways, irrefutable.
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