Taking the first step – preparing yourself for leadership

Most people head to work each morning hoping to learn something new, make a difference or at least achieve some sort of progress. The desire to do a good job, learn and improve is the basis of professional pride and it’s one of the chief things that drives our need for career progression.

Your career may be in its early days or you may have been working hard and learning across a variety of roles for several years, but it’s likely that at some point you’ll want to make that transition into a more senior role, with more responsibilities and a higher salary. One thing that few people consider, however, is “Am I prepared to be a leader?”

A leadership mindset and skills to match

A startling figure estimates that around 50-60% of high level executives leave their position within the first 18 months of accepting the role and even a 25-year successful career can fail to prepare people for taking on top roles. Gil Amelio, CEO of Apple Computers was replaced by Steve Jobs in less than a year and Jack Griffin of Time Inc. lasted less than five months. There are many reasons why they had short-lived tenures, but successful leaders need a wide variety of skills to fulfil the role.

Experience is often assumed to be key to successfully taking on a senior management role, but experience alone is not enough to make a leader. It’s not just industry knowledge that leaders require, but also skills such as effective communication, the ability to negotiate, manage people and resources and think critically and objectively to solve unexpected problems.

Leadership is a teachable skillset

As a first step into leadership, it’s important for executives to have a good understanding of their company and be mentally prepared to support its needs. Other essential leadership capabilities need to be learned.

The University of York has created three 100% online MSc degree courses in Leadership and Management, to help fill the skills gap of the estimated 1.9m extra managers and directors that will be needed by 2024. As all teaching is delivered online, you have the flexibility to study when it suits you, meaning you can keep your current role and salary and learn in your spare time. The ability to earn-as-you-learn is also supported by a pay-per-module structure for all online courses, removing the need for large, up-front payments – you may also be entitled to a UK government backed postgraduate loan which covers the full cost of the course. What’s more, York alumni will receive a reduction in fees.

Gaining a Masters degree from a prestigious Russell Group university without having to take a career break and being able to apply what you learn in your current role will help equip you with the knowledge and skills required of a company leader. It will help you to demonstrate, when the time comes, your ability to take the reins in your new leadership role.

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