There are many levels of leadership. Every person can help others grow or knock others down. Each of us has a choice of whether we want to pursue leadership or not. These personal choices are not good or bad, you get to pick. How you invest energy in your life, including your work, is completely up to you. Sure, not everyone can be the CEO, but truthfully, not many would really want to be. Intentionally planning your career trajectory and communicating that to others who can help you get there can start the first day you walk into the office.
As Brittney Helt, Michelle Baker and I wrote in our book Talent GPS (watch for our ATD book in 2019 on talent development), your career doesn’t go exactly as you planned. There are twists and turns. You’ll be changing as you progress. Struggles help you grow your emotional strength. Accept resiliency as the best way to lead your own career. Always have a goal for the next right step.
As you look at the model below, you can see how leadership progresses. Everyone is a leader. Depending on your role in the company, leadership will take different forms. For example
- When you are a Do-er, you are focusing on growing your own competency. You’ll likely team up with your peers and supervisors and learn together.
- As an SME, you are an expert in a specific set of competencies. Helping others learn what you know is leadership.
- As a Manager, you have Do-ers and SMEs reporting to you. Your job is to step out of some of the work to help grow the people who are doing the work.
- As a Director, you are managing the Managers, helping them get out of the weeds and grow organizational value. You have a strategic view.
These four roles flow fairly easily from one to the other. The transition between leading by doing (Do-er, SME) and leading leaders (Manager, Director) can take thought and effort. There is a significant change of focus in the middle. Some find out they’d rather stay where they are. Some find they are better at managing others. Both choices are appropriate.
The Leader (think C-level executive) is the next step and it’s the big leap. Notice the chasm between Director and Leader. As you’ll learn below, there are big differences between these levels including competence, behaviors, values and business savvy. In fact, at this divide, the roles are almost opposite.
In our IT Leadership Bootcamp , we coach people to make these choices intentionally. You can be anything you want. At the end of the boot camp, there are two great outcomes – either you decide to go forward and seek a leadership role, or you decide you’re best right where you are. Both outcomes are equally excellent, but you must pick just one.
In the steps below, I’ll share the Pros and Cons of the roles, the competencies that make sense, and an RMA workshops designed for that level.