Becoming an expert in any field of study is a daunting endeavour, often requiring years of training, education, and experience. But having a comprehensive understanding of a particular sector doesn’t always translate directly into leadership in that industry. From economics to engineering to environmentalism, getting into leadership positions can be a challenging task, regardless of the size of the organization. Whether you’re just starting to look into a transition, have decided to become the next CEO, or have already been offered the opportunity to move up, here are the three things you should consider when making the career shift into management. At the end of the article, you will find the leadership transition checklist.
Should you become a leader?
Expert profile vs leader profile
Tricky question… The decision to make the transition to a leadership role should be made with careful consideration, especially if you’re an expert. If you’re a specialist, your natural inclination is to focus on your own work. This means you generally need a high level of autonomy and are likely to have unique perspectives. In short terms, you like focusing on details!
The logical next step
It’s very common, in our society that experts wind up in leadership roles because “that’s THE logical next step in their career ladder”. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right step for you. Leadership requires a broader vantage point. And that shift can require reconciling a discrepancy between your natural orientation and the reality of your new role. Are you are willing to shift your expertise to a higher strategic level? How will you feel when your focus is diverted from work you typically enjoy? Will you be comfortable with delegating it to others?
Are you ready to get into a leadership position?
There are a few things to consider when deciding to transition into management. Gone are the days in which age corresponds with seniority — but your past experience certainly comes into play. Here’s some important questions to ask yourself before making the decision to move from direct application to leadership:
- Have you been working in the field for a number of years?
- Do you have a degree in said field?
- Have you held managerial positions within other sectors, and are now looking to change industries?
- Do you feel you would be adept at directing and guiding dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of employees?
What will it take to become a leader?
Whether you’re looking to become the head of your own company or take charge of a large international corporation, making the shift isn’t quite as simple as deciding you’re ready to move up the ladder.
For starters, many people who hold leadership positions have specific qualifications in business management, which allow them to do so.
In addition, there are many aspects of directing an organisation which are not necessarily visible to those on the outside. Legal frameworks, administrative policies, and project management systems are all subjects that leaders must be prepared to confront head-on.
So, how do I start my transition?
There are a few different ways to move into leadership:
Jumping right in
It is possible to simply start applying for leadership roles. This can be the right option for an expert looking to open their own business, or for someone who has already been offered the opportunity to step into a management position.
It can be harder to land a leadership job without proven experience or education, as your profile might not be as competitive as those with formal qualifications. The learning curve is also much steeper with this option, and you might find yourself overwhelmed with the responsibility and project management required.
- Going back to school full-time : While this option is extremely thorough in its preparation of future leaders, it can be expensive, and also requires a complete time commitment for the duration of the degree. It’s a good choice for those who are either completely new in their field of choice, or who can afford to dedicate all their time and resources to a career switch.
- Online education : This is a great blend between the two options. You have the ability to develop your skills and knowledge within an online setting, completing coursework on your own time — without giving up other important commitments such as family time or career advancement. Important aspects to consider when deciding to pursue online education are the quality of the programme, the number of students enrolled, and the design of the coursework.
EDHEC’s online programmes not only offer maximum flexibility within each offering, but are specifically designed to be taken online. They are built with human connection in mind, giving students the ability to work directly with professional teachers and within intimate group environments. The Master of Science in International Business Management is a completely online degree programme for those looking to join a global community, providing a prestigious diploma while allowing you to continue in your current position.
Students will develop cross-cultural aptitude and increase their earning potential by learning the inner-workings of how organisations operate internationally.
Alternatively, field experts looking to hone their craft can enroll in EDHEC’s Advanced Strategic Management Executive Certificate. This programme focuses on analysing and resolving strategic problems at both the business and corporate levels, as well as practicing the formulation and communication of strategic recommendations to top executives.