The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you prepare for a management role? is written by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.
Ultimately, the best way for anyone to prepare for a management role is to simply learn by doing. To start, focus on incorporating additional responsibilities into your day-to-day work in order to highlight your value beyond your basic job description. Taking initiative to expand your role will help prove to senior management that you are ready to move into a leadership role. In fact, the best employees are often seen as effective managers by their colleagues even before they are actually promoted.
Although taking on more responsibilities can benefit your career, it is crucial to do so with care and respect for your company’s workplace dynamic. Proactively increasing the scope of your role may take some coworkers aback if they believe that you’re attempting to step into a role that you’re not ready for. One way to ease into more managerial responsibilities without stepping on anyone’s toes is to make yourself available to new employees as a mentor. At its core, being a manager is about being able to support and solve problems for your team. Helping new colleagues learn the ropes will position you as a major asset to incoming employees and management alike.
See also: The Big Mistake Most Managers Make
Another effective way to safely raise your profile within a company and demonstrate that you’re management material is to volunteer to assist colleagues outside of your usual team. For example, one of our employees recently stepped in to help a coworker on another team working on a big project with a tight deadline. The senior leadership team noticed the employee’s team-oriented attitude, and he is now responsible for managing several people.
You can also take steps to prepare for a management role outside of the office. Make an effort to build a strong professional network that includes people whose positions you aspire to hold. These professionals will likely have experience making the transition into a management role and can offer you advice and guidance. Make a point to meet up or check in with select members of your network regularly—once a quarter or every six months—to keep the relationships strong.
Once you’ve officially attained the role of manager, focus on leading by example. If you come in early, work late, and put your best effort into all of the work you do, your team will take notice and follow suit. Setting the tone through your own work is a much more effective strategy for motivating your team than holding your new title as manager over your colleagues’ heads.
Remember, being a great manager is all about people. If you focus on building trust and respect among all of your team members, you will set yourself up for success.