How to Get into Management
As a headhunter, many people who are not currently in a management role ask me if I can let them know about opportunities in management. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. “Getting into” management isn’t something that companies hire people off the street to do. Trust me; they already have plenty of people in their company who want to get into management.
If you prefer to listen or watch about this content, we have also produced a YouTube on the subject
“Getting in” is something that is best accomplished by implementing a solid career strategy and executing it within your current company. If you don’t see a path with your current organization, you must identify a new company and invest the time and effort to build your reputation as an individual contributor and then implement a career strategy geared towards developing into a leadership role.
Here is a simple acronym to remember the steps you must take to get into leadership: BELT.
Build a Plan – Let’s be realistic here. Developing leadership skills takes years, typically 7–10 as an individual contributor and then another 2–3 to develop the reputation, leadership skills, and experience to be truly seen as a manager.
Enlist Mentors and Advocates – The good news is that all leaders in your organization have faced this same hurdle. It’s not an easy transition. Invest time in identifying people who can advise you and be your advocate when the time is right.
Lead – Look for informal opportunities to demonstrate leadership within your organization. Leaders have followers! The best way to be seen as a leader is to start demonstrating your leadership skills. Look for opportunities to contribute to the direction of your organization. Speak up in meetings. Mentor others. When you start looking for these opportunities, you will be surprised how many are out there
Train – Become a dedicated student of leadership and management. Reading this article is a good start but don’t stop. Invest in yourself—take classes, read books, listen to podcasts, and identify as many learning opportunities as you can. Getting your boss to invest in that cool new management class is a great start but don’t stop learning.
The best way to become a leader is to be seen as one, so implement the BELT strategy and start leading. As you execute your career development plan, develop your leadership skills, and cultivate a stable of mentors and advocates, you will develop a level of momentum that will be impossible to stop.