The Strategist Survey tells me that heads of department range from as few as 8 years of experience upward to 20 years of experience. There is someone out there in the US who is head of their department making $100K and there are quite a few making over $300K. That’s a pretty huge spread of experience and salaries all labeled “Boss.”
So how do you know when you’re ready to lead a department? The truth is you may never be. You may decide that the politics aren’t for you. Or that starting your own thing is the way you wish to express your boss-ness.
But then there are those who want to try to grow a company that already exists by harnessing the talents of a group of people. How do you know when you’re ready for that?
For me, it happened in the middle of an interview. I thought I was talking to StrawberryFrog Amsterdam about a director role within a small, but already established team. It turned out they wanted someone to lead the department. The idea of being the boss scared me a bit – was I ready? But it also excited me. As I cycled home along the canals after my interview, my brain couldn’t stop sparking ideas about how I would do things if I got the gig.
Then I got the offer and I accepted. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. When you’re leveling up from team member to team leader, it’s almost as simple as transforming the belief that the leadership team has in you into your own belief that you can do it. Your confidence swells when your peers see something in you that maybe you don’t even see in yourself.
The clues of your potential are there though. You’ve helped win accounts. You’ve taken a newbie under your wing. You’ve had quite a few performance evaluations steering you forward and upward. And you enjoy the work for the most part. You suspect that with more autonomy, you’d enjoy it even more.
Sometimes all you need to accelerate your growth is to be wanted. All you need is a group of people to want to work with you. Sometimes the title is like the feather that Dumbo the elephant clutched to thinking it gave him the ability to fly.
I’m writing this post today because I know of a cool group of people who are looking for their head of strategy here in Miami. They’ve won big awards. They’re young. They want to see what they can build together. They just need the right strategist to help them grow.
If that might be you, please get in touch.
Or if you have some advice to share for that period of transition into leadership, I know I’d like to read it.
I get quite a few emails asking for advice so I’ve decided I’m going to try to use this blog as a place we can ask questions and share advice. If there’s a topic you’d like discussed, send me a note.