How to Choose A Career Path When You Don’t Know What You Want to Be
If you’re feeling lost and unsure of what career path you want to pursue, there are some steps you can take to help you decide.
Moving into a new management or leadership role is a very exciting time. You’re reaching new heights in your career and making progress towards your goals – but it’s no walk in the park! Transitioning from a team member to a team leader doesn’t always go as smoothly as one would hope, and there are many obstacles you may need to overcome.
Our career consultants have over 20 years’ experience working with professionals from a wide variety of industries. Although we know that every career path is unique, there are some shared challenges that we know all new leaders need to tackle – regardless of their sector.
Stepping into a pair of management shoes at work can be intimidating. With the promotion to a leading role you’ve been given the opportunity and responsibility to lead others and guide your team in a collaborative, enabling and motivating way. You may have been a high performer in your previous role (hence the promotion), but a leadership role calls for a set of entirely different skills.
Let’s look at some of the most common challenges that leaders face in their new roles and how you can overcome them.
One of the easiest mistakes that people make when moving into leadership roles, is trying to continue doing all their previous work. Leadership requires time, effort and energy on its own. If you’re still trying to do everything you did previously, while trying to squeeze in your new managerial tasks, you’re unlikely to make it all work! To achieve this involves developing the ability to delegate the appropriate tasks to the appropriate team members. The art of effective delegation relies on assessing the diversity of talent in your team. This will allow you to understand which individual’s strengths are best suited for specific tasks.
Smooth transitioning into a leadership role requires some letting go. This might mean letting go of things you really enjoyed doing or even letting go of certain relationships with colleagues. If you want to become a successful leader, you will need to give yourself a realistic amount of time to develop within your new role in order to accomplish the tasks that are inherent to leadership.
Let’s face it – you probably don’t have all the skills you need to effectively take on your new position. Firstly, you might be unfamiliar with leadership and managing people. This will require a whole new range of understanding and skills.
This typically involves moving from being a team member who follows instructions, towards adopting a role that is rooted in increased accountability, responsibility, and the ability to make decisions while at the same time adopting a collaborative style. Furthermore, the ability to step up successfully, comes from your ability as a leader, to inspire and contribute towards the vision of your organisation. In order to develop your leadership skills, you would need to have trust in your ability to inspire, influence, motivate, mentor and encourage an atmosphere of collaboration within your team.
Secondly, moving into a new position always comes with some development needs and that’s a wonderful thing! Nobody wants to move into a role where there is no room for growth.
It’s important for you to set some goals for development and implement actionable steps that you can take to reach them. Take some time to identify the areas that are most important for you to upskill yourself in and start working towards growing yourself where required. John F. Kennedy said that
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.
Lastly, but not least, the development of the self within a leadership role requires one to acknowledge the complexities that come with moving into a senior position, as well as acknowledging one’s purpose within the organisational structure. The essence of a leader should thus contain the ability to mobilise their team, while maintaining trust and firmness towards them. A good leader is one that has a team of motivated and inspired individuals who are aligned with and contribute to his or her vision.
Moving from your previous role in which you exceled at, could possibly mean you’re leaving behind work that you really enjoyed. Make sure that when you accept a new leadership role, that the new work is still aligned with your inner self.
If you spend time enhancing your self-awareness, you will be in tune with what brings you satisfaction. It’s important for you to align your leadership style and efforts with your inner values, interests and skills. By setting clear goals for yourself in your new role and creating a clear vision, you will be able to work authentically towards reaching both your own objectives as well as those required of you by the organisation.
Your KPI’s and outcomes will most likely be very different than in your previous work. You essentially have an entirely new job – with entirely new expectations. Be sure that you understand exactly what is expected from you. If you have a clear understanding of what success looks like in your new role, it will be easier for you to work towards it.
Challenge yourself to meet expectations but don’t forget that you’re bound to make mistakes while you’re learning and be aware that it may take some time to adjust.
People aren’t always going to agree with you. You may be required to make some unpopular decisions. You also could be leading a team of which you used to be a peer. Transitioning to a leader from this position can often lead to some resentment from other team members who are still adjusting to the change in team dynamics.
Remember that even though your role has changed, you should still be approachable. Your team will respect a leader who is supportive, inspiring and who leads by example.
If you have recently taken on a management or leadership position at work and want to develop yourself to achieve your full potential, our consultants can help. Our consultants will help you manage your work relations and career planning in an authentic way. We will help you look at where you are currently and where you need to be and then set goals and steps for achieving your growth.
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