Five questions to ask yourself before you say YES to that leadership role
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Getting a promotion or climbing further up the career ladder can make all the hard work that’s come before it worth it. It’s a true acknowledgement of your skills, experience and work effort. And when you take on a new role and responsibilities you’ll want to make sure you’re making the right move.
Whether you’re taking on a leadership role in your current place of work, making a move to a new organisation, or even if you’re setting up your own business, there will be many factors that you’ll no doubt want to consider.
Factors like money, responsibility and commute are obviously very important to consider and weigh up. However, there are 5 key questions to ask yourself and work through before you jump in.
These are questions that I often ask myself when I’ve stepped up into a new leadership role, whatever the size and scope of it.
1. Do you know who you are?
Seems like an odd one to start with but understanding your values, beliefs and principles will mean that you can work out quickly if they will be met and honoured in any organisation. If they aren’t, I can guarantee that you’ll not want to stay longer than you can justify the period of employment on your CV.
I’d encourage you to spend some time working out your work place values. Start by thinking about what you don’t want, then list the key values you do want to have in place in your workplace. This could be things like an inclusive team, a compassionate boss, challenging and fulfilling work, promotion opportunities, personal and professional recognition, support when you’re stuck, decent salary.
You can also dig into your personal values such as honesty and openness with everyone, respect for all employees, a flexible approach to ways of working and tackling problems, freedom of choice and autonomy.
Think about past roles or projects when you were at your best, what made it possible? What did you have in place that you’d want again? Add these to your list, too. Be as specific as you want – they’re your values and often it can be the deal breaker between one organisation and another.
Once you’ve got your list, have a look at the organisation’s mission statement and values. Do they align with yours? Are their values part of the culture and everyday conversation or are they just something on the website as a tick box exercise?
If you get a chance to look round or meet the team beforehand look out for their values statements pinned up across the office or notice how they’re referred to as part of the recruitment process. During the interview stage, you could even ask.
Making sure the job fits you is as important as the employer finding the right person for the role.
2. Do you know why you want it?
Leaders who motivate and inspire others are ones who know their why and the reasons they want something; it’s their passion. Passion, ultimately, is what motivates you and shapes your purpose in your professional and your personal life.
When you know what you’re working towards and why, you’ll find it easier to identify whether the role, the people and the organisation you’re considering, will be a good fit for you.
When was the last time you thought about why you do what you do? If you’re not sure, then try to reflect on those times when you were at your best or when you felt you’d made an impact.
Make a list of all the achievements you’re really proud of.
· What did you accomplish?
· What projects were you working on?
· What did you create?
· What strengths and skills were in play?
· Who were you working with?
Once you have your list, then consider what made you proud of your accomplishments. Were you passionate about what you were doing? Or was it just something that needed doing?
Leadership is easy when you’re passionate about something. It gives you the clarity and motivation to step up and step out. When you’re contemplating a leadership role, it’s critical to know the reason why you want it.
3. Do you know the way you work?
You can easily research leadership styles and try and work out where you feel most comfortable. However, I firmly believe that the most important thing about how you lead is that you are yourself.
You can’t consistently be something that you’re not; it’s pointless and draining. And if people feel you’re being disingenuous or they don’t trust or believe in you, then you can’t effectively lead them.
Brene Brown said it beautifully, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
There are other leadership qualities that are also important to consider; how many of these would you say you have?
· You see the positives in people: When you give people opportunities to be themselves and encourage them with positive acknowledgements and a chance to succeed, then you are enabling them to unlock their full potential.
· You have empathy: Being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes is important as a leader. It’s a skill to be able to understand different perspectives and empathise in order to be effective.
· You listen: Great leaders are able to listen. And I mean properly listening where they give their undivided attention and listen on an emotional level. We all know what the opposite feels like when people are distracted, don’t make eye contact, only want to listen to talk and not to learn. Listening is a skill that once mastered will pay dividends.
· You are open to change: Leadership often means embracing and creating change in response to what is happening around you. You’ve probably seen people who have struggled in the face of change and have resisted rather than embrace it. Think about how willing you are to grow, develop and move forward in the face of change.
If you can identify with these qualities then you might be more of a leader than you think, just start by being yourself.
4. Do you know who your team are?
The relationships you build with the people you’re working with and working for, will be the main factor in determining whether you’ll be happy and fulfilled in any leadership role. Particularly if you’re stepping up as an female leader into a new role or team.
It’s not just about how you lead others, it’s also about whether your managers, directors and the organisation, are the role models that you actually aspire to.
In my experience, women prefer to take a collaborative approach to their work, to feel part of a team, to know that they have the trust and support of team members and managers.
This inclusive approach ensures that everyone is part of the process and can play to their individual strengths for the success of the team as a whole.
When you look at any new leadership role, what is in place that encourages this approach? One of the main reasons people leave a role or an organisation is because of dissonance with a person they’re working with or for.
We’ve all worked with people who don’t contribute as part of the team, take the lion’s share of any credit, patronise, discredit and even bully junior members. They’re destructive, disruptive and generally not nice to be around. One person’s behaviour can affect the whole team.
Thinking about these things will help you understand yourself, what you value about the people you work with and ultimately what you need to have present within your new place of employment and the team you’re working with.
I can guarantee that when you’ve felt supported, championed and appreciated it will be because the culture of the organisation and the people was synonymous with your own.
So ask to meet the team you’ll be working with, have a conversation with them, ideally at a team meeting or even lunch. Spend time in conversation with a couple of the directors if that’s possible, and definitely have a conversation with the person who will be your manager. Find out what’s important to them, what their expectations are for you and work out what some of their key values and beliefs are.
Great leaders motivate their employees to be the best they can be, they build trust and respect with you and with their teams.
Getting to know these fundamental things will ensure that you’ll thrive in your new role and you’ll have a greater awareness, not only of yourself but of the organisation and the team you’ll be working with.
5. Do you know where you’re going?
An essential part of leadership is your ability to look forward and know where you’re going. Having a vision will support you as a leader to prepare for the future as well as keep you on track when things aren’t going as you’d planned.
Who’s in the driving seat of your career? Often it will be your manager, your department director and ultimately your organisation. How often you have created a vision for yourself or created a yearly plan that doesn’t align with the company’s targets and visions? Have you ever thought about what your dream career looks like? It’s never too late to start.
I’ve changed career twice and the last time I was in my 40s. It actually became the next logical step in my career because I knew where I was going and what I wanted.
It wasn’t always this way of course. For most of my career I drifted along and took opportunities that felt right and I know that I could have been much further along if I’d had a plan. I’m grateful I at least know now and it really isn’t too late to make a change.
I hope these questions have inspired you and got you thinking about your career and your next steps. I’d love to hear how you get on or if you need any further focus.
My mission is to support women to bring all of themselves into how they lead. You don’t need to lose your femininity and compete with men to succeed. You can lead from the heart and, more importantly, be your best self.
I am always open to chatting to you, if you’re wanting to work out your own leadership style and your strengths or want to make a career change and aren’t sure where to start.
Get in touch and book in a free Next-Step Strategy call. It can help you identify the one thing that is stopping you make the changes you want and support you to work out what you can do to take action now.
If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.