The New Year is seen as a convenient time to pause, take stock and look back on the last 12 months. Figuring out what went well or poorly and what you’d like to achieve in the future is something most people do on one level or another, which explains the popularity of New Year’s resolutions. What people often neglect to do, however, is apply the same thinking to their careers with professional resolutions.
Goals, progression and leadership
It’s very likely that the most popular work-based resolution for many would be to step up the ladder with a promotion or by taking a management/leadership position. Moving up in the company hierarchy and taking on the extra responsibility and salary that goes with it is the most common way that people think of career progression.
When choosing a candidate for their first management role, senior managers look for time spent in the company, an understanding of its ways and processes, coupled with supporting technical knowledge. A candidate with this level of understanding is an asset, as it’s likely they will have sufficient experience to assume responsibility of day-to-day tasks and oversight as part of their role.
Going further than the first managerial role
While getting that first promotion and stepping into the shoes of a team or departmental manager is great for career progression, that’s not where most people would like it to stop. Most people would like to continue, taking on greater levels of responsibility as they climb the ladder and overseeing more and more people – and it’s important to understand that continuing on that path isn’t just about assuming more senior job titles, it soon requires a strong set of leadership skills.
For many companies, the words ‘leader’ and ‘manager’ are effectively synonymous, particular in junior or middle management roles, as they have the same responsibilities. Being a leader, however, is not the same as being a manager.
Management concentrates on the technical aspects of running a company; its operations, processes and reporting. Being a leader, however, is also focused on the human element – striving forward and bringing the rest of the team with you. Both have a big impact on companies and are necessary, but it doesn’t always follow that a good manager is a good leader. Similarly, natural leaders don’t necessarily have a management job title.
Getting the skills you need
In the upper echelons of a company, you will need to be able to manage processes and lead people, but while experience within a company can give you the management capabilities you need, how do you go about acquiring, refining and proving your leadership qualities?
One excellent means of doing so is to enrol on one of the University of York’s 100% online MScs in Leadership and Management. Being able to demonstrate the core skills taught on the course – such as effective communication, critical approaches to problem solving and independent assessment of progress – will show employers an impressive array of professional capabilities. As all learning materials are delivered entirely online, you have the flexibility to study when and where it suits you. You also don’t need to attend campus, so you won’t require an extended or costly study break; you can keep your current role and earn while you learn.
Best of all, you can pay-as-you-go for each module of the course, which means you can gain a prestigious Russell Group university Masters degree without large, up-front costs. Ensuring that you have all of the necessary managerial and leadership capabilities that you need could be the very thing that turns your New Year’s resolution into a career fast-track!