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Build the skills to do the job.

Brian Willis

I am currently reading the book Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader by Ryan Hawk. In there one of the quotes that jumped out to me was, “Build the skills to do the job, not to get the job.”

When you get promoted to a formal leadership position what you quickly realize is that all the skills that made you a great candidate for the promotion are now irrelevant and you need to develop a whole new set of skills in order to be successful as a leader.

We generally spend most or all of our time building the skills to get the job, and not thinking about building the skills to do the job once we do get it. It is easy to assume that the organization will send you on a leadership course after you get promoted, and they may. In some organizations that “newly promoted supervisor course” just covers administrative and paperwork issues, it does not teach leadership skills. In other organizations it can be up to a year or more before newly promoted supervisors are sent to a training course. The reality for you however, is that people are looking to you to lead as soon as you get the promotion.

If your organization does not yet have a culture of leading where they are continually developing leaders at all levels of the organization, then take it upon yourself to become a student of leadership and build your leadership skills. Attend leadership training offered by the organization. Attend leadership training on your own. Find a mentor or mentors. Study leadership books and talks. Take notes, reflect and identify ways you can implement what you are learning. Talk to people you respect that are already in leadership positions and ask for advice on your development. Take action on what you are learning and become a leader in your current role while you are also developing your skills for future roles.

When you do get promoted, keep learning. You need to be both a student and a practitioner of leadership throughout your career.

None of this is meant to suggest you do not also continue to develop your skills in your current role. You need to be willing to put in the work to continue to grow and develop in your current position, while also putting in the work to grow and develop your leadership skills. Those leadership skills will also help you grow in your current job.

Note: The Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop can help you on your leadership journey.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis