Last week we talked about the shortage of qualified resources who could be considered for the leadership positions being left behind by the retiring baby boomers. Corporations would be wise, I suggested, to look at their project management pool for their future leaders.
So as a project manager, today’s question is ‘what can I do now to be considered for these positions?’
- Get noticed. If you want to move on and be considered for more senior positions you need to get noticed. You need to wave the flag and let people know that you want to move on from your project management role. Unfortunately, may people think “once a project manager always a project manager” so you need to break out from the pack and serve notice that you are a candidate now or in the future.
- You need to knock everything you do right out of the park. You need to help your boss succeed. I know for some that doesn’t sound very fun but it sends a very clear message about you and your connection to your organization. You need to prove you are, or will be, a good candidate.
- Focus on your business acumen and knowledge. Last week I listed the reasons project managers would make great leaders: attitude, knowledge, attributes and skills. Of these four, the one area that project managers typically need the most work at is their knowledge of the business, the industry and their ability to work at a senior level within this area. Think courses, coaching and mentoring.
- Fine-tune some of the key skills that leaders require: financial knowledge, presentation skills, writing, listening, negotiating and decision-making. Identify your weaknesses and fill the gaps. Conversely identify your strengths and leverage them.
- Have a plan. I’ve often written in this space about your Professional Strategic Plan. If you have a goal, you need to think and plan strategically now to get there. What does your career look like in 5 or 10 years? What and who are you today in terms of strengths and weaknesses, skill set, knowledge and more. And once you know the future and current state you can move on to the plan and how you are going to achieve the goal. High achievers have a plan and work continuously to implement it.
Corporations are looking for their leaders of tomorrow. Project managers are a great fit but you need to make it known that you are interested and you need to show that you are doing everything you can to be qualified and considered.