Making the move to managing a team

Many Assistants are making the move to managing a team and taking on more of a leadership role in their organisations. It is an exciting time for career-driven Assistants who want to add more value. The opportunities are there for the taking, and Assistants must understand the skills and competencies needed to transition into leadership and managerial roles.

Here are some things Assistants need to consider and have in place before taking on a leadership role.

Delegating and making decisions

A key area that sets employees on the road to leadership is delegating and taking responsibility for their workload. This means being aware of the work they do, the value they bring to the organisation and solving problems as they arise (ideally foreseeing any problems before they occur).

For Assistants who are making the move to managing a team, the first step is to have the confidence to delegate work that they shouldn’t be doing, automating it or giving it to someone more appropriate.

Delegating work can be challenging for Assistants. We often base our value on our singular output – in other words, how much work we get through. When you start to think as a leader or step into a managerial role, you are measured on your team’s success or a different matrix. It can be challenging to step out of a meeting and give out the actions rather than doing them yourself. It is an adjustment that Assistants should master if they want to be successful managers.

Making decisions is another area that some Assistants find challenging. It is often down to confidence and not wanting to make the wrong choice. But I know that most Assistants when pressed make the right decision and choice the correct path.

Create some situations in which you can show your leadership skills

Like anything making the move to managing a team takes practice. It might seem an impossibility that you would manage a team in your current role, but it shouldn’t stop you from creating situations in which you show your leadership skills. If opportunities to demonstrate leadership potential exists already, great. But, if you don’t have apparent scenarios, it is up to you to create them.

Ask to lead the next team meeting so you can practice chairing a meeting or delegating work, put your hand up for a project or manage an event. Once you start to practice your leadership skills, you’ll be amazed how much those around you begin to see you as a leader.

What leadership and managerial skills do you have? What do you need to improve?

Being self-aware is a beneficial skill in itself, particularly for Assistants who want to move forward with their careers. Understanding what makes you stand out and where you add value with the skills you already have makes the transition that little bit easier. You can ensure you step into those opportunities where you know you will shine. Understanding the areas that need a little more work will give you focus and a goal for improvement.

Building your network

Having a solid network that you can call upon to help solve problems will make your move into leadership a lot smoother. As the saying goes, it’s who you know, not what you know, and although I don’t quite agree with that, it certainly helps to know people who can help you when the need arises. Also, you want your network to put in a good word for you. For Assistants, it is helpful having the support of those around you who see your potential and the value you bring to the orgainsation.

Having a strong network also exposes you to more of the business, and it helps to build your awareness and business acumen. Again, Assistants must be involved in the industry and understand the dynamics of the organisation building a network helps with that endeavour.

Give yourself room to fail

This might be the most crucial advice I can give to Assistants. We often think we have to be perfect in the role and never make a mistake. But, it is hard to grow unless you’ve challenged yourself, and sometimes when we challenge ourselves, we don’t reach the goal, or we ultimately fail. There has to be room for failure, even for Assistants. Learning from our mistakes helps you figure out how to get results.