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Why 'moving up' may not be your best move

Wise words
from a job expert

For most people in the business world, dreams of a corner office and a fat pay raise occupy their minds on an hourly basis. That’s just the reality of the corporate environment. But for some, striving for a promotion is absolutely not the right career move. Consider each of the following to make sure that you’re a good fit for management – and management is a good fit for you.

Wise words from a job expert

Do you have the right personality?

Obviously, there are certain personalities and characteristics needed in order to be a good manager. Part of what I love about my job is being able to discover people with a talent for leadership. Necessary managerial traits distinguish these people from the rest: 

  1. Natural self-starter: People ready for management positions require little or no guidance when it comes to diving right into a project.
  2. Confident: In a world that moves as fast as ours does, confidence is essential to making good, quick decisions. Good executives have the guts to present or lead a project. They aren't afraid to stand up for what is right and address conflict.
  3. Passionate: People who demonstrate passion are highly coveted in the managerial world. If a person has passion and is in the right atmosphere to flourish, she will achieve truly phenomenal results for both herself and her team. Passion is not something that can be bought or borrowed. It is something that comes from deep within an individual; it's a primal drive to grow, regardless of where she is planted.
  4. Driven: Leaders are driven to be better today than they were yesterday. These people are natural success stories and accomplish much more than expected in managerial positions. If corralled correctly, the drive a leader has will be passed down to her team and, ultimately, create an environment where success is the only speed.

More traits of a good manager

Be prepared to be diplomatic, strategic and self-sacrificing before even considering a management promotion. You must enjoy managing tasks and being considered an authority. Decision-making feedback must come from you.

The most common trait I observe in managers who have mistakenly been promoted is their failure to connect with employees. You could be the smartest, most experienced person in your field, but if you cannot form a relationship with any of your teammates or colleagues, then you're dead in the water. On the other hand, your career will soar into positions you never thought possible if your colleagues view you as trustworthy, reliable and relatable.

Have you considered your priorities?

Too often, people run away with the dream of a huge office and their name on a gold plaque before taking the rose-colored glasses off to see the real duties associated with becoming a manager. I have had to sacrifice things – time, sleep and my favorite TV shows, just to name a few – in order to maintain my position. A leader is depended upon for anything at any hour of the day or night. It is absolutely critical to consider the possible life changes that may come with accepting a promotion into leadership.

Remember that a position in management requires a completely different set of tasks and responsibilities. You have to ask yourself if you really, truly love your current job. If you can't imagine a day going by without interacting with customers, developing reports or any other of your current duties, then I would strongly caution against making the leap to the management ledge.

How to decide if a promotion is right for you

  • Make a pros and cons list. These are simple and effective. Align your priorities, and even review your list with a mentor or coach to hear unbiased feedback and guidance before making your decision.
  • Seek outside advice. If you're interested in management, talk to a mentor who has already converted and moved through the management ranks of the company. Ask about her personal management experiences and how her job differs today from 10 years ago.
  • Return to your priority list. Typically, managers don't keep traditional work hours. For example, I often check emails late at night and on weekends. Make sure this is something you can be at peace with, knowing you want to move into management.

Make the move (or don't)

Even after going through all these preparations, sometimes you just have to jump into a managerial situation, feet first, to see if you're ready to take on these new pressures. The good thing about this approach is you will learn very quickly if managerial positions are right for you. If not, don't sweat it. Like I said earlier, not everyone is cut out for management, and management isn't cut out for everyone. Knowing whether or not you want to be a leader is strictly up to you, no one else. It doesn't matter if you are a leader or manager by title; we are all true leaders of our own lives.

Wendy Komac is a longtime turnaround specialist who has helped save companies by focusing on changing underperformers to exceptional workers. She is the author of I Work with Crabby Crappy People, a humorous and highly informative book about achieving happiness and success.

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